Ontario Bill 118 Now Online

The text of Ontario’s Bill 118, Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2008 is now available online. There’s also a PDF version.

Display screens visible to the driver are prohibited, except for dedicated GPS devices and a few others. The “money” provision reads as follows:

No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.

With the proviso:

a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described [above] if the person is not holding the device…

[or] if all of the following conditions are met:
1. The motor vehicle is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.
2. The motor vehicle is not in motion.
3. The motor vehicle is not impeding traffic.

Gives new meaning to the old and worried question: “You holding?”


  1. [78.1](2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle.

    I like this inclusive language, but I am concerned over prescribed device. In my long commute I see several things non-electronic that I would prescribe as devices:
    mascara tubes, lipstick and other alleged beautification devices
    music storage and creation devices – yes I am talking drum sticks here
    children on laps

    That last one is covered elsewhere in the legislation of course.

    The explanatory note says:

    The Minister of Transportation may prohibit holding or using other devices by regulation and may provide for further exemptions by regulation.

    Does ‘prescribed device’ mean that the Minister has to get specific in the regulations?

  2. it is long over due

  3. Has this law been passed?


  4. Now does this include the use of mobile two way communications including Citizens band as well as the amature bands

  5. I note the word ‘highway’ being used in the bill. Does this refer to all roads or are highways a different designation than city streets.

  6. Another foolish Law being added on the books, If the Minister has any brains, he will exempt CB and Amateur Radio as they are both a vital important communication tools.Most truckers use their CB to warn each other of possible hazards or current hazards on the roadway. Amateur Radio can be called upon to assist with communications during an emergency or disaster situation.
    Holding a device does cause a crash, it’s the consumption of thought involved in the conversation and removing your eyes from the road. What’s this law going to do? everyone is already getting bluetooth devices. Another waste of Tax dollars being spent trying to pass a law. As if the cops don’t already have enough to deal with on their plate.

    PS. Highway in the H.T.A constitutes a local road.

  7. The relevant parts of the Bill are not yet in force, though the Bill had Royal Assent in April 2009. The status is shown in e-laws.

    There is wide power in the Minister of Transportation to exempt people, devices and situations from the prohibition (and the legislative text already exempts a lot of devices and people).

    That said, a person distracted by using a CB radio while driving a large truck at 25+ metres a second may need dissuasion too. I am not completely sympathetic to the argument that truck drivers are less likely to be distracted by using such a device than other drivers using cell phones. Professional drivers may be better than non-professional drivers (but many of the latter have a lot of experience), but the consequences of their losing control are possibly more serious too.

    There has been no end of articles and ‘education’ publications about the dangers of driving while on the phone (or worse…). That information does not seem to be affecting behaviour very much. It seems fair to try to up the ante somewhat with a legal prohibition. Presumably it will be one more instance of police discretion whether it is more dangerous to try to stop and ticket someone contravening the law than to let the person keep on doing it…

  8. I wish to repeat Donnas’s question “Has this law been passed”? is it now law?

  9. R. Turney: read comment 7 for status of the legislation.

  10. Here’s a question: the law prohibits use of a “hand-held electronic entertainment device” such as an ipod or other mp3/music player. But elsewhere it specifically appears to be concerned about devices that have display screens. What if I have an mp3 player that does not have a display screen, just standard playback control buttons?

  11. I think I answered my own question by looking at the bill. You’re allowed hands-free mode for entertainment devices as well. In other words, you can listen to an ipod/mp3 player but don’t hold onto it while doing so.

  12. I’m assuming that the Interlock Ignition devices that persons convicted of Impaired Driving must use as a license condition is on the exemption list of this this bill. I understand what the Ignition Interlock program is trying to achieve in terms of fighting drunk driving (although studies are starting to show it makes no impact whatsoever on impaired driving). The Interlock device (or “breathalyzer”) is easily as distracting and dangerous as cell phone use. So while I can see the value of 118, its selective application is somewhat illogical, and not only in the case of the Interlock device as others have pointed out.

  13. The government has now announced that the prohibition on distracted driving will come into force on October 26th, 2009. During the first three months police will issue warnings only; real tickets start in February 2010.

  14. This new bill should not partain to the use of Amateur Radio equipment at all. Although the Ontario Government has allowed an extended 3 year grace period for all Amateur operators in Ontario, to allow them time to adjust and upgrade their mobile units to “hand free” usage, this does settle nicely with amateurs across Ontario. Note: There has never been a recorded accident caused from the usage of any Amateur radio equipment on the hwys. to date since the begining of mobile use in Amateur Radio. This includes all the provinces in Canada, not just Ontario, alone. Amateur Radio is licenced and Federally controlled, and not controlled by the Province of Ontario. Other povinces have this same “hands free” law in affect, but it totally excludes the Amateur Radio mobile usage. They are completely exempt from that said law, and the same should also apply here in Ontario. Amateur radio equipment is not cheap by any means, and in many cases costs the operators thousand of dollars for their mobile equipment alone. Amateur equipment is far more indepth, complex, and more functionable than any police fire or ambulance setup, now being used in the province of Ontario today. Still, we have no recorded accidents to date anywhere, straight acorss Canada. Amateur Radio provides emergency services when needed, on the road, across our wide vast country, and around the world. Many times when local government cummunications break down in an area, we’re still up and running, providing a communication link and aid where needed, non-stop. This is provided both on the roadways, and off. This doesn’t cost our federal or provincial governments a red cent. It’s all provided free of charge, and helps reduce the work load of many government emergency personal, and added costs to the adverage tax payer. During a past bad ice storm a few yrs. back, extending in both through Ontario and into Quebec, cummications went out fast across Canada by amateurs(unseen, unheard by the public), requesting the use of generators, blankets, food, and fuel for people requiring their use. They even provided the shippemnt of such items, free out of their own pockets, to and back from these areas where they were needed so badly. Many travelled door to door making sure all got the help needed to weather out the storm, till all was repaired and everything was back to normal once more. You might say we are a Federally licenced radio, Civil Emergency group, never paid, but always willing to help those in need, at our own personal expence. We as amateurs provide a special sort of service to both Ontario and Canada as a whole, even world-wide without requesting pay back. This service is too vital a service to all Canadians, and with this new “hand free” law, will cost those amateurs that use mobile equipment many more extra added “X” number of dollars to up date to newer equipment to comply with this new law. Resently purchased new equipment bought by an amateur for hundreds of dollars, will become totally worthless on the open market, adding to the extra cost of updating their equipment to a “hands free” usage of their radios. This bill, and the added expense it will cost each operator, and could very well shut down many amateur radio stations across Ontario, causing an increase of required government personal to replace, what we as amateurs provide for free. It will also fall back on the adverage Tax payer who will have to pay for those extra personal needed to replace us in their yearly tax payments. The adverage Canadian doesn’t really realize, just how much service, and tax savings we provide to both them and both our governments, (federal and porvincal). Ontario’s Amateurs are now very unpset about this new bill, and are requesting total exemption from this new law, just like it is in other provinces in Canada, or it may well be taken to the courts of the land to bring about this exemption from Bill 118. Ontario Amateurs must band together, and fight this Bill 118, tooth and nail, till we are exempt from it’s rulings. 73 va3grp.

  15. Since ths law is coming into effect than i guess all computer and radio devices including cell phones will be coming out of police cars. Then the entire province Ontario’s police force’s need to start looking for call boxxes and pay phones for comunications to there respect dispatchers. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander

  16. Subsection 78(3) of the Highway Traffic Act, as created by Bill 118: “Subsection (1) [the general prohibition] does not apply to the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle.”


    and 78(4): “(4) The Minister may make regulations exempting any class of persons or vehicles or any device from this section and prescribing conditions and circumstances for any such exemption.”

    The regulation> (O.Reg. 366/09) spells out a number of such exemptions.

    Here is one of them (s. 12(1) of the regulation): “Until January 1, 2013, drivers of commercial motor vehicles, within the meaning of subsection 16 (1) of the Act, may drive a commercial motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a two-way radio.”

    And another (s. 13(1) of the regulation): “Until January 1, 2013, drivers who hold a valid radio operator certificate issued under the Radiocommunication Act (Canada) may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a two-way radio.”

    So CB radio operators such as some of the commenters above, whether or not truckers, get an extra three years to use their devices on the road. Or three years to prove that they don’t have accidents while using the devices and that allowing them to use the devices is a good thing, then to persuade the government to extend the exemption.

  17. Glenn Killam VE3GNA

    While I do agree with Bill 118 in principle, due to its implications for cellphone users, who by and large are the greatest single threat covered under the bill, I also wholeheartedly believe that amateur radio operators and CB operators should be exempted.
    In an interesting sidenote, it should be noted that it is largely due to the experimentation by amateur radio operators that cellphones even came into existence. Amateurs have been using repeaters in the VHF and UHF range for many years to extend the range of their low power mobile radios, and it is from this technology that cell phones evolved. So I guess one could say that we had a hand in creating the very thing which has now come back to bite us.
    Many amateurs already use headsets to control their home stations with the inclusion of a footswitch to handle the PTT (Push To Talk) functions, so it is not a really big problem to extend this to mobile radios. BUT, the cost should be covered by some form of tax break to the amateur, IF he or she can show that his or her equipment is being used in the public interest. This proof could be in the form of a membership card in the local ARES group or some similar piece of identification. The downside to a device of this nature is that the listening portion must by its nature cover one ear of the operator, which therefore reduces his ability to hear ambient sounds around him. This could lead to distraction, the very thing the bill addresses.
    No, better a total exemption from the bill for hams.
    Glenn Killam

  18. I still don’t quite see why CB radio operators are not just as distracted as cell phone users when they are driving. I am sure that many cell phone users have as many hours of experience driving while talking on their devices as hams.

    There is an exception for cellphone use when the user is calling 911, so why should the CB exception be wider? Are they/you *always* speaking/listening in the public interest, so that other drivers and their own passengers should risk the distraction?

  19. None of this should really come as a great surprise from this government. They seem to like to make all kinds of new laws without regard to thinking it out. They make these sweeping laws that cost and inconveniance an entire province because of a few people that don’t have any common sense. This law also proposes to also eliminate the way commercial 2-way radio has been used for as long as hams have been in operation. Neither of which are the issue. This province seems to think that the global suppliers of 2-way radio equipment are going to develop, test and supply new technology within three years just for them. Alot of 2-way radio users that are covered under this law are municipal and provincial entities, ie roads and utility workers. This upgrade ultimately comes out of our tax paying pockets. Perhaps this is some kind of twisted stimulus package. When is the next Provincial election? I’m going to vote for someone that promises to do nothing, the others cost too much.