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MTO Considers 5-Year Extension of CB Exemption from Distracted Driving Rule

Market for hands-free, two way radio still needs time to develop

(Toronto, April 10, 2012) — The Ontario Ministry of Transportation appears to be leaning towards a five-year extension to the exemption for hand-held, two-way radio usage under the province’s 2009 distracted driving law.

Before making the final decision, the ministry is soliciting stakeholder and public feedback on the issue of continuing to allow commercial drivers to use two-way, Citizen Band Radios (CB) beyond Jan. 1 2013, when the exemption is set to expire.

Because of the pervasive use of these devices among commercial drivers, MTO agreed to a three-year, phase-out to allow for the development of hands-free, two-way technologies. At the time, MTO stated that should no suitable alternative be developed to replace CBs within that timeframe, it would consider expanding the exemption.

In a letter to the Ontario Trucking Association, transportation minister Bob Chiarelli stated that while it recognizes that a market to replace hand-held CBs has not developed at this time, the government and industry must continue to work towards a viable solution.

The Ontario Trucking Association, which supports the intent of Ontario’s ban on hand-held devices, would welcome an additional 5-year exemption for CB radios.

OTA president, David Bradley, agrees that the market for a hands-free version of the still popular CB “is going to need more time to develop.” He says the CB “remains an important safety and social communication tool for thousands of truck drivers” and commends MTO for “choosing a regulatory path specifically for these devices that encourages the development of a suitable, readily available hands-free technology down the road but in the meantime is not disruptive to the everyday operations of countless truck drivers.”

Comments to the ministry can be made from April 16 to May 30, 2012 by way of the government’s Regulatory Registry at www.ontariocanada.com/registry.