Ontario Distracted Driving Legislation and Amateur Radio

by | 2015-12-07

VA3QR MobileBelow is a letter I sent out to every RAC affiliated club in Ontario, as well as to the 4 Ontario Section Managers. Amateur Radio Operators in Ontario are currently exempt from the distracted driving elements of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, but that exemption is due to expire on January 1, 2018. As the individual spearheading the effort to have this exemption made permanent, just as it is across the rest of Canada, I’m trying to compile as much documentation as possible for the eventual presentation to the Ministry of Transportation. This affects all Ontario Amateur Radio operators, not just RAC members. If you are a member of a non-RAC affiliated club or EmComm organization in Ontario, please submit the following to your group. Let’s get this done!

Calling All Ontario-based Amateur Radio Clubs and ARES/EmComm Groups

As you may well know, Amateur Radio operators in Ontario are enjoying a time-limited exemption under the Highway Traffic Act’s distracted driving regulations, allowing us the use of mobile 2-way communications apparatus until January 1, 2018. However, that day is approaching faster than we think. Amateur Radio operators have been utilizing mobile communications equipment safely and responsibly since before cellular telephony was popular and affordable. In addition, the equipment that can be found in the vehicles of thousands of hams across Canada translates to an instantly available means of communications in time of disaster – a network of no cost to the served agencies who may depend on it. Every other Province and Territory in Canada has recognized the value of this fact, amongst others, and have granted us permanent exemptions in their laws respectively. Now it’s time to ensure that Ontario does the same.

I am spearheading the effort to lobby the MTO to make the exemption under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Regulation 366/09 permanent to all certified Amateur Radio operators, but I need help. I am looking to compile the following documentation from as many individual sources as possible:

Priority 1 – Letters from Served Agencies – Government: I would like every club and ARES/Emcomm group in Ontario that has a good relationship with the agencies they provide auxiliary communications to (i.e.: municipalities, emergency services), to get signed letters from people within those agencies (i.e.: elected municipal representatives, members of emergency services, CEMC/PEMC) outlining the vital importance of Amateur Radio in their emergency communications strategy/strategies.

Priority 2 – Letters from Served Agencies – NGOs: Similarly to the above, I would like letters from Non-Governmental Organizations (i.e.: relief agencies, hospitals) outlining the services that Amateur Radio operators and organizations provide to them, and their importance to their operations in time of need.

Priority 3 – Letters from NFPs: In addition, I would like letters from Not-For-Profit groups that your club or organization provide communications to on a volunteer basis, emergency-related or not (i.e.: parades, runs/walks, special events) detailing what you provide for them and their importance.

The letters I’m requesting do not have to reference the HTA or distracted driving – I simply want to put as many letters in front of the MTO as possible outlining our importance to the municipalities, NGOs and NFPs we serve. I believe it will be this documentation, above all else, that will help secure our permanent exemption and put this matter to rest once and for all. I would like to have all of this documentation in hand by no later than March 31, 2016 so that I can assess what we have and plan our next moves.

If you should have any questions, comments or concerns, I would love to hear from you, and am reachable by any of the means listed below.

vy 73 de VA3QR

Phil A. McBride, VA3QR / VA3KPJ, CEC
Director – Ontario South, Radio Amateurs of/du Canada
Mobile: +1 (416) 884-0480
E-Mail: va3qr@rac.ca

Leave a Reply