Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Clearing up Confusion About Ontario Cell Phone Ban


In late October, the Ontario government announced that it was tabling legislation that would ban the use of handheld devices while driving. It seems that the flurry of media attention the issue received caused residents of this province to believe that a ban has already come into effect. Just to clear things up: THE LEGISLATION HAS NOT YET PASSED!

While it has passed the first reading, a spokesperson from the communications branch tells me that the proposal still needs to go through the standard legislative process. While he couldn't provide an idea of how long this might take, he did indicate that the earliest we'd see the ban come into effect would be Spring of 2009. Yes, people. You've got plenty of time.

With that said, it's highly likely that the ban, or some variation of it, will indeed pass. As it stands, the Government is looking to ban not just cell phones, but the use of any hand held wireless device while driving. This could include everything from portable navigation units, to iPods. You would, however, be able to use the phone in emergency situations, or with a hands-free headset or speakerphone. But red lights? Sorry, you won't be able to quickly send that text while you're waiting for the green. Bottom line: you'll need to pull over before even so much as touching your cellular phone.

Of course when asked what the difference is between changing stations via my windshield-mounted satellite radio receiver and inserting a CD into the car's factory player, I'm told only that these are the sorts of issues that need to be flushed out before actually passing the legislation.

If the ban does come into effect, you can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $500 as a fine.

While this can be viewed as bad news for electronics manufacturers, there is a silver lining: Bluetooth products will skyrocket in sales, and customers will respond much more positively to features like voice-recognition/activation and quick-button functions. Tailor your products and campaigns toward these features, and you could actually benefit from this ban.

But again, we're speaking hypothetically. For now, however, it would still be a good idea to outfit your car with a Bluetooth speakerphone anyway. You might not hold your hands at 2 and 10 while driving anymore. But this doesn't mean you should hold them at 12 and up-to-my-ear either.

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6 comments:

Jonathan said...

Has this legislation even passed? When does it come into effect?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Johnathan,

If you read the blog post in its entirety, you will see that the blog has NOT yet passed, and won't until, at the earliest, Spring 2009.

Jonathan said...

I did see that, however, the blog was dated Nov 5th and I wanted to find out if anything had happened since and I was unable to find any news story dated after your blog with any reference to this legislation! Not even on the ONtario government's website. Thanks for clearing it up and keep us all posted!

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Johnathan,

No problem! I don't anticipate that, for any reason, the decision will be sped up. I was told at the time this was written that we definitely wouldn't see the legislation pass until Spring.

This isn't to say, of course, that you should talk to your heart's desire on the phone now while driving! (haha). It's still a good idea to invest in a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone now. You'll also avoid the crowds once/if the ban DOES pass. You can be sure that people will be buying them like crazy at the last minute!

Anonymous said...

It's April now... I've done some checking... the bill doesn't seem to have gone farther than it's first reading. Did it die?

Anonymous said...

I'm constantly on the road for both business and pleasure. 90% of the time that I see someone driving stupidly, they're on the phone. I really hope this law comes into effect soon and that it is enforced heavily. There are countless people out there driving like idiots, thinking that they've got everything under control. It's April 21, 2009 today. I continue watching bad drivers in disbelief. Maybe some of them will be dead before the ban becomes law.