Regulation - Minister

Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices - Exemption Review

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Regulation - Minister
Bill or Act:
Highway Traffic Act
Summary of Proposal:
The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) recognizes the importance of creating an effective regulatory environment that accommodates the use of new and innovative vehicle technologies which promote economic growth and prosperity in Ontario. The proposed permanent exemptions for both commercial drivers and CSIS officers would reflect an approach of balancing the safety of road users with the requirements of effective law enforcement and provision of emergency services. Road safety remains a top priority. For the past 17 years, Ontario's roads have been among the safest in North America and MTO continuously strives to maintain and improve on this leading safety record.

In December 2017, the Minister of Transportation extended Ontario Regulation 366/09 (Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices) under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) for a three-year period until January 1st, 2021. This exemption currently allows the following to hold or use a two-way radio:

o Certain public function employees (eg., bus drivers);
o Commercial drivers;
o Amateur radio operators (eg., an Industry Canada-licensed operator which could include a commercial driver).

For two-way radios, the exemption allows a driver to push and hold the button on a hand-held two-way radio device when driving. The driver may push a button to talk and release it to listen, repeating as often as necessary to conduct a conversation. If the hand-held device is a microphone, it must be secured in, or mounted to the vehicle and within easy reach of the driver. Two-way radio hand-held devices that are clipped to the driver's belt or attached to his/her clothing are also exempt.

The Ministry is currently considering making the hand-held two-way radio exemption permanent as:

• it is not aware of any collisions attributable to the use of these devices currently exempt under the regulation,

• Ontario would align with all other Canadian jurisdictions in allowing them to be permanent and,

• a confirmed commercially viable market for hands-free alternatives to two-way radio technology has failed to develop.

The Ministry is currently proposing to grant CSIS officers a permanent hand-held communications device and display screen exemption:

• CSIS officers are akin to peace officers under the Criminal Code, and should be granted the broader exemption afforded to current law enforcement officers (eg., fire, police, ambulance).

• Allows CSIS officers, like law enforcement officers these special privileges so that they may do what is necessary to protect public safety.

For more detailed information, please see the attached backgrounder.

The Ministry invites any comments on making the expiry of the exemption permanent, as well as any additional suggestions or comments on how the Ministry could minimize distracted driving while supporting economic growth and prosperity in the province.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
Not Applicable
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
September 18, 2019
Comments Due Date:
November 4, 2019
Contact Address:
Road Safety Policy Office
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue; Room 212,
Toronto, ON M3M 0B4