New ban means no texting, talking or tuning with hand-helds while driving

The following statement has been issued to the York community from Human Resources & Employee Relations. The statement outlines the legislation and penalties related to the new ban on the use of wireless and display screen communication and entertainment devices while operating a motor vehicle:

All York University employees should be aware that legislation has been passed amending the Highway Traffic Act to prohibit the use of display screens and hand-held wireless communication and entertainment devices. This legislation is aimed at reducing distractions so that drivers focus on their primary responsibility – driving safely.

The amendments went into effect Oct. 26. There will be a grace period until Feb. 1, 2010, following which a fine of up to $500 can be levied against drivers who use a prohibited hand-held device. Drivers who place others at risk as a result of using hand-held devices while driving can also be charged with careless driving and face fines of up to $1,000, six demerit points and driver’s license suspension.

Many York employees use these devices in the course of their employment. Some employees use motor vehicles in connection with York University business. As a result, this communication is being circulated to draw to the attention of all employees the new amendments governing the use of display screens and hand-held wireless communication and entertainment devices.

Nature of the Prohibition:

There are two new prohibitions created as a result of the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, as follows:

  • Driving a motor vehicle with the display screen of a television, computer or other device visible to the driver is prohibited. 

Exemptions: As an example, the display screen of a global positioning navigation system device that is being used to provide navigation information is exempted from the prohibition. The device must be placed securely in, or mounted to, the motor vehicle in order for the exemption to apply.  

  • Driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication or entertainment device or electronic entertainment device is prohibited. 

The exemptions to the prohibition are as follows:

  • Using the device in hands-free mode; and/or
  • Using the device while the motor vehicle:
    • a) is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway;
    • b) is not in motion; and
    • c) is not impeding traffic.

It is important to note that the ban extends to holding the device and not just using it.

What do the amendments mean to you as an employee of York University?

York University employees are expected to abide by the new legislation governing the use of display screen and wireless communication devices when operating a motor vehicle while on York business. 

In accordance with the University Procedure on Reimbursement of Expenses, York University does not reimburse for parking, traffic or other fines and penalties; fines and penalties issued on University owned, rented or leased vehicles are the responsibility of the driver.  

Employees who use motor vehicles to perform their jobs (e.g. truck, van and bus drivers; operators of tractors, ploughs, golf carts and moving equipment etc.) are not only subject to these new prohibitions but also may be held to additional standards and prohibitions as specified in the operating procedures, guidelines and/or directives of their respective departments.