Cell phone ban comes into effect

Starting Oct. 26 it will be illegal for Ontario motorists to use any wireless devices that can cause a distraction while on the road.

This includes the viewing of entertainment devices such as DVD players or laptops.

Though the ban is going into effect in a few weeks, Sgt. Pierre Chamberland, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) explains that the province “will not be able to start issuing tickets for that [ban on wireless devices] until the first of February [2010].”

There are some exceptions to this ban. Motorists who are in need of emergency assistance will still be permitted to make 911 calls. Wireless devices may also be used when safely pulled off the road or in a designated parking area.

Hands-free and navigation devices securely fastened or integrated into vehicles may still be used while driving.

Professionals who rely on hand-held devices while on the road are still permitted to use them for job-related purposes. The goal is to have a three-year phase-out period in which hands-free wireless technologies will be developed for the profession.

The creation of a safe environment for drivers and pedestrians on all roadways in the province is “ultimately our goal,” said Chamberland.

While many are relieved to hear this news, a survey reported on by the CBC found that 14 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds, the age group of most concern, are determined to still use their hand-held devices while driving.

These numbers are disconcerting as teens and youth comprise nearly one-quarter of the total national deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, according to Statistics Canada.

Hand-held wireless devices are responsible for 200 deaths and millions of accident related injuries every year in Ontario.

According to CAA North & East Ontario, a provincial car insurance company, cell phones are the number one cause of accidents.