Bluetooth Hands Free Devices Not So Alien Anymore

Hand-Held Devices Ban Begins October 26

October 01, 2009 -- The provincial ban on the use of hand-held devices while driving will take effect on October 26, 2009.

The new law will make it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial, or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices (All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1). Hands-free devices will still be permitted. The new law also prohibits viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task such as laptops or DVD players while driving.

Fines Begin February 1, 2010
Following a three-month period that begins October 26, where the focus will be on educating drivers, police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010. Under Ontario's new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device.

Hands-Free Devices
The new law applies only to hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This means drivers must only use wireless devices that can be used in a "hands-free" manner:
• a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialing, or plugged into the vehicle's sound system
• a global positioning system device that is properly secured to the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle
• a portable audio player that has been plugged into the vehicle's sound system.

Some wireless devices require that users push a button to activate and/or deactivate the device's "hands-free" function. This activity is permitted under the law.

Drivers will not be permitted to use hand-held communication and entertainment devices when driving, with the following exceptions:
• Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
• When the driver has safely pulled off the roadway and is stationary or is lawfully parked.

Other devices not included in the ban:
• Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
• Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information to the driver about the status of systems in the motor vehicle.

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