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Monday, October 27, 2008

Ontario to ban cell phone use while driving

According to the Globe & Mail, the Ontario government is considering tabling a bill that would ban drivers from using cell phones. My freedom loving soul cringes at the thought of further regulation governing the personal habits of the people of Ontario.  That being said those who are libertarian inclined should not dismiss this proposal out of hand.

The legitimacy of such a law hinges on if you buy this part of the Globe & Mail article;

Also, the Ontario Medical Association has concluded that driving and talking on a cellphone creates the same risk for the driver as being at the legal limit for alcohol consumption.

If this is so then cell phone use in cars should be banned for the same reason that drinking and driving is banned.  It is not a matter of personal choice but of public safety.  Once someone has become a real threat to those around them the state has a responsibility to act.  If cell phone drivers are a sufficient threat then the state has just cause to act.

Of course one study does not convince me that cell phone driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.  According to the article 37% of drivers use their cell phones while driving.  I want to know how many accidents are caused by this and how severe those accidents are.  I don't know how severe the public danger has to be before the state should act, but at the very least the public danger has to be clearly defined and quantified.

(Also if you ban hand free cell phone use then you also have to ban talking and listening to the radio while driving.)

More on cell phone bans here.


This is an article published in the Edmonton Journal that is related to this topic.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 27, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


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Typical McGuinty. The great messiah come to expiate our sins and rescue us from our evil ways. He still hasn't managed to bring relief to the besieged citizens of Caledonia (a situation Mike Harris would have solved long ago), but when it comes to non-threats like hands-free phones (which offer the same risk to traffic safety as any passenger but a deaf-mute), he is surprisingly vigilant.

Pit bulls, guns, and now cellular phones and GPS devices (which come built in on many modern cars). Welcome to Bantario. What stuns me is that he, like Dave Miller, actually survived re-election. The people of Ontario are reaping the result of their own stupidity. Love Harris or hate him, crap like this never happened while he was at the wheel. But then, Harris wasn't a gutless pretty boy.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-27 10:26:21 AM

Is talking on a cellphone really more dangerous than having a conversation with a passenger?

Maybe we should ban all conversation. Or maybe all passengers.

Ban everything. Then finally we can be safe.

Posted by: Q | 2008-10-27 10:31:28 AM

I agree that hands free phones should not be banned. I see no real argument for that ban. Phones that occupy one hand from the wheel could qualify as dangerous. I am not convinced but willing to be convinced if someone can present me with appropriate data.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-10-27 10:40:14 AM

"Also, the Ontario Medical Association has concluded that driving and talking on a cellphone creates the same risk for the driver as being at the legal limit for alcohol consumption."

Apart from wanting to see the scientific experiment that helped the Ontario Medical Association reach this "medical" conclusion I think it's amusing for what it says about the actual risk that 0.08% alcohol absorption in the blood creates.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-27 10:45:41 AM

I've been talking and driving for over 25 years. My first mobile phone was "push to talk". Guys like me can't drive without a coffe in one hand, a daytimer in the other, a phone in the other, and a job file in the other.

The big problem I've seen is these young girls texting while they drive. They already believe the world revolves around their vaginas, and that means they think traffic should basically make room for them.

The problem with bans is they catch a lot of innocent people in their net. There are already laws in place the police can use to make young drivers pay attention to the road. I think it could be covered with existing undue care and consideration tickets.

Posted by: dp | 2008-10-27 10:58:35 AM


Albertans would do well to remember that Ontario has "no fault" insurance.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-27 11:09:24 AM

Speller you raise an important point. A fault insurance would certainly discourage people from dangerous behavior. Though if the danger is small enough that this is all it would take to remove it, I don't think it is sufficient enough to warrant a ban.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-10-27 11:16:09 AM

Shane- McGuinty is a "pretty boy"?????

Posted by: Ben Dover | 2008-10-27 12:14:13 PM

I, for one, will love to see them banned. Almost everyday, there are examples on bad drivers made even worse on the freeways - while talking on their phones.

Weaving in and out of lanes, going too fast or too slow, tailgating, going through stop signs, red lights and pedestrian crosswalks are just a few such examples.

Driving and multi-tasking don't work.

The UK has gone even further to including drinking (tea I hope) and eating while driving.

Posted by: The LS from SK | 2008-10-27 12:36:52 PM

They call themselves a "medical association", what a hoot. This has nothing to do with medical truth or fact, but rather a group of zealot busybodies with too much free time on their hand.

Sorry LS but I can also point out my long experience of witnessing bad and even dangerous driving of people without cellphones or coffee/tea in their hand. This is simply more state tyranny.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-27 1:08:13 PM

Cell phones, yes. Too many people just don't have the ability to drive properly while talking on the phone, hands free or not.

But GPS??? oh hellll no!!!

I can see, perhaps, having the ban being partial. Like you can use it to guide you, but you need to have put in your destination info ahead of driving.

Typical Ontario. Gov. can't make logical laws. Just blanket everything.

Well, NEXT ELECTION..... see where our votes go!

Posted by: Derek | 2008-10-28 5:29:13 AM

I don't think banning cell phone use will make the roads much safer. I don't think texting should be allowed-as you actually have to look at your phone to text, and when you're looking at your phone you're not watching the road.

But talking on a phone-especially a hands free phone, does not require much attention on your part. Having an intense, emotional conversation or argument while driving might be a distraction, but your typical phone call is no more distracting that talking to a passenger, or changing the radio station. Unless the government is going to somehow ban ALL distractions-including radios and conversations with passengers, they're not solving anything.

And I would have to say in my driving experience, I've seen more bad drivers on the highways that aren't on cell phones than those who are-I've never really seen cell phone use as a major threat to road safety.

Posted by: Shilo | 2008-10-28 10:10:35 AM

Just another stupid law put forward by people with too much time on their hands. All people need to be diciplined because there are a few that can not chew gum and walk at the same time.I still remember the "experts" arguing for the removal of A M radios for vehicles because they were such a distraction that "thousands"of people were dying every year due to attention diversion. We are drowning in laws that are meant to save everybody from everything. I agree with Shilo. Enough already.

Posted by: peterj | 2008-10-28 11:44:07 PM

would bluetooth headsets & bluetooth car kit would also be banned ??

Posted by: sunnie | 2008-10-30 9:17:37 PM

Sunnie, under this incarnation of the legislation, handsfree and Bluetooth would still be legal. But McGuinty is on the record as wanting to ban ALL electronic "distractors." He might not miss GPS that much, but most of us don't get chauffeured everywhere we go.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-30 10:00:10 PM

I agree totally with the cell phone ban.But just like seat belt laws i hope that the police themselves follows the laws,you never see an officer with his seat belt on or you never see one in court fighting a speeding ticket but they all do speeeeeed.Does this law include the use of computers while driving?Like the once used by police in there cars.

Posted by: K.A.T. | 2008-11-16 1:19:06 AM

I recall that there was a specific exception for emergency vehicles. So no, I don't think the law includes the computers police use.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-11-16 1:44:52 AM

drinking & driving and cellphones are totally different, cause when your drunk your brain cant function. i think that cellphone use should just be banned to a point such as like just texting while the car is in motion and can only be talking on speaker.

but thats my opinion

Posted by: Sara | 2008-11-25 10:17:08 AM

To all of you morons who are whining that it won't do anything:

You're retards.

Posted by: Tim | 2009-01-02 2:10:54 PM

You're retards.

Posted by: Tim | 2009-01-02 2:10:54 PM

Thanks Tim, always nice to get some objective opinions from the statists in the crowd. I guess with your logic we should probably ban cars because then we'd have fewer car accidents right?
Maybe we can ban "homes" to stop home invasions.
Carry on Bantario, you lead the way to communism.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-02 2:29:02 PM

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