OTA is thankful the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has once again extended the exemption for drivers using CBs and two-way radios for another three years, but with the increased attention on distracted driving the association is eager to work with officials toward a final resolution on this issue.
In mid-2017, the Ministry of Transportation opened up consultations to determine appropriate next steps that could be taken to address the time-limited exemptions currently provided in the Highway Traffic Act for the use of hand-held CBs & two-way radios.
The original exemptions included in the HTA were set to expire at the end of 2017 and represented outstanding technology that has not yet made the full transition to hands-free operation, but still plays a critical role in the commercial vehicle sector. During the consultation phases three potential options for industry consideration were presented: extend the exemption for 7 years; make the exemption permanent or allow the exemption to expire at the end of 2017. During the consultations with MTO over the summer several fleets and industry suppliers highlighted that hands-free technology for CB & two-way radios is available and is currently being adopted, but would need some additional time for full implementation.
For CBs and two-way radios, the exemption allows a driver to push and hold the button on a hand-held, two-way radio device when driving. The driver can push a button to talk and release it to listen, repeating as often as necessary to have a conversation. If the hands-held device is a microphone, it must be secured in, or mounted to the vehicle and within easy reach of the driver. Two-way radio, hands-free devices that are clipped to the driver’s belt or attached to his/her clothing are also exempt.
After careful consideration of input provided by industry, MTO advised OTA late last week that the current two-way radio exemption for licensed amateur radio operators and specified commercial, public transit, and public function drivers will be extended for a further three-years, effective January 1, 2018 until January 1, 2021. The amended regulation can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r17475.
With increased scrutiny on commercial vehicle driver inattention by police as being a leading cause of serious collisions, OTA will be working with its membership, suppliers of CB & two-way radio technology, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Transportation during the three-year transition to raise awareness on the availability of hands-free technology for CB & Two-way radios and encouraging its adoption.