Regulation - LGIC

Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices - 5-Year Limited Exemption Review

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Regulation - LGIC
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 - however road safety remains a top priority. For the past 15 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.

On January 1, 2018, specific time-limited exemptions for the holding and use of two-way radios outlined in Ontario Reg. 366/09 - Display Screens and Hand-Held Devices are set to expire. These exemptions currently allow 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 limited-time exemptions which became effective on January 1, 2013, struck a balance between a real road safety concern related to the risk of distracted driving and the understanding that an additional five years would be enough time for the market to deliver hands-free alternatives to two-way radio technology.

In the absence of any further amendments to the current regulation, expiration of this exemption would prohibit the hand-held use of two-way radios for all road users (aside from law enforcement outlined in the current regulation). For this reason, the ministry is considering three options to address the expiry of the exemption.

1- Extend the exemption for hand-held use of two-way radios for an additional seven years.
2- Make the exemption permanent.
3- Allow the exemption to expire (making hand-held use of devices illegal and requiring all currently exempted drivers to use hands-free alternatives only).

For more detailed information, please see the attached backgrounder.

The ministry invites any comments on the expiry of the exemption, 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.

Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
May 3, 2017
Comments Due Date:
June 15, 2017
Contact Address:
Road Safety Policy Office
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue; Room 212,
Toronto, ON M3M 0B4