Regulation - Minister

Bill 118

Ministry: Ministry of Transportation
Regulation Number(s): O.Reg. 366/09
Bill or Act: Highway Traffic Act
Summary of Decision: The ban on the use of hand-held communication and entertainment devices and display screens came into force in Ontario on October 26, 2009 and was followed by a three-month education period after which police could begin issuing tickets as of February 1, 2010.

As part of the distracted driving law, Minister's Regulation (O.Reg 366/09 - Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices) under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) creates a three-year exemption for the hand-held use of two-way radios by certain commercial, public transit, and public function drivers, and licensed amateur radio operators.

This three-year exemption is set to expire on January 1, 2013.
Further Information: Click to open Highway Traffic Act
Click to open O. Reg 366/09 Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices
Proposal Number: 09-MTO005
Posting Date: June 4, 2009
Summary of Proposal: The Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009, received Royal Assent on April 23, 2009.

The legislation, when fully implemented, will ban the use of hand-held devices and viewing display screens unrelated to the driving task.

Drivers will be prohibited from:

- Using hand-held wireless communication devices (such as cell phones and Blackberries) and hand-held electronic entertainment devices (such as iPods and PlayStation Portables)

- Texting and emailing

Drivers would be prohibited from typing text messages and e-mails as well as reading them on a display screen while operating a motor vehicle. The ban would apply unless the device is used in hands-free mode, the driver is calling 9-1-1, the motor vehicle is off the roadway and not impeding traffic, or the vehicle is lawfully parked. Under the legislation, emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) would be exempted from the hand-held wireless communication device ban.

The legislation also prohibits display screens if they are visible to the driver and are unrelated to the driving task, such as DVD players and laptop computers.

There are exemptions in the legislation for viewing screens of devices that display GPS information, collision avoidance information, vehicle status information or logistical information used by commercial operators.

This law is expected to take effect this fall. Before the law can take effect, a supporting regulation to describe possible exemptions must be developed.


Contact Address: Road Safety Policy Office, Road Users, Room 212, Building "A", 1201 Wilson Ave. Downsview, ON, M3M 1J8
Effective Date: October 26, 2009
Decision: Approved