RAC Directors Allan Boyd, VE3AJB (Ontario North/East) and Phil McBride, VA3QR (Ontario South), had a very productive meeting with Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) officials on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to consult with industry stakeholders on Ontario's Distracted Driving Law and, specifically, the current five-year exemption for the handheld use of two-way radios set to expire on January 1, 2018. The meeting resulted in a very productive exchange of information.
Allan contacted the MTO in mid-October and asked for an update. An MTO official advised him they have all the materials that was presented to them at their earlier meeting including:
- a detailed briefing note for the Minister
- condensed versions of all the legislation from the other provinces in their exemption sections
- articles on the concentration levels of full duplex versus half duplex conversations
- information about Radio Amateurs of Canada and a copy of The Canadian Amateur magazine
- documents stressing the importance of the use of radios including the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) program
- the complete package of all the supporting letters that RAC received on the issue
- a letter signed by RAC President Glenn MacDonnell, VE3XRA, outlining RAC's position
They advised that a final decision will be announced in a media conference by the Minister of Transportation on the exemption issue prior to the expiry date on January 1, 2018.
RAC will issue a bulletin as soon as we receive any information and we will also post the information here on the RAC website and on the Distracted Driving webpage at: https://www.rac.ca/distracted-driving/
Note: RAC bulletins are sent to members who subscribe to the service by completing the online form at: https://www.rac.ca/rac-notifications/
Additional Background Information:
Distracted driving regulations continue to be an area of interest for many Canadian Radio Amateurs. These regulations are made and enforced by Provincial governments and can vary considerably from province to province and over time. Radio Amateurs of Canada has prepared a list of links to current regulations in all provinces that have established them. They can be found on the Distracted Driving webpage at: https://www.rac.ca/distracted-driving/
Radio Amateurs of Canada representatives in our regions often work to clarify regulations where Amateurs may be caught up in them or when the regulations are being created or modified. A committee was formed to monitor the legislation and work with government officials on a province by province basis to look after the interests of Canadian Amateurs. This committee is under the direction of RAC British Columbia/Yukon Lead, Bill Gipps, VE7XS. Two provinces are the focus of current activity: British Columbia and Ontario.
In British Columbia, Bill Gipps, VE7XS, together with two local Amateurs (Chris Scholefield, VE7QCS and Dave Miller, VE7HR), met several times with representatives of the BC Government to discuss BC distracted driving regulations and their application to Amateur Radio. The BC Government completed their stakeholder engagement and published a new document in February 2017 which clearly spells out that Amateurs can use “push to talk” buttons, on our Amateur Radios, while operating in our motor vehicles.
RAC will continue to provide additional information about distracted driving regulations on the RAC website as it unfolds. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your Director at any time at the address shown on page 4 of The Canadian Amateur magazine and on the website at https://www.rac.ca/board-of-directors/.
Stay tuned to the RAC website for more information.