Volume 94, Issue 48

Thursday, November 23, 2000


Operation Massive loses over $30,000

Student gets promoted As PM

Affiliates looking for piece of pie

Layman House closes

Remembrance Day bill introduced in Ontario

Fantino asks for less cell phone use

London North Centre candidates get candid - contenders answer light-hearted questions

Fantino asks for less cell phone use

By Adam Stewart
Gazette Staff

The days of chatting on the phone while driving may be over in Ontario if the provincial government listens to the concerns of the Toronto Police department.

Toronto Police Chief, Julian Fantino, announced his concerns about the safety of cell phone use while driving this past Monday, according to Toronto Police corporate communications Sgt. Jim Muscat.

"[Fantino] is encouraging various government officials to look into making the use of cell phones while driving an offence," Muscat said. "It's a safety hazard."

Muscat said the use of hands-free cell phones would not be considered an offence because they do not impede a driver's ability to drive as much as hand-held cell phones.

"The biggest danger of cell phone use is the complexity of the conversations," said director of public and government relations for the Canadian Automobile Association in Ontario, David Leonhardt.

Leonhardt said the CAA encourages people to pull over to the side of the road if they need to use their cell phones.

Yet Michelle Cino, a third-year Western media information technoculture student who admits to using cell phones while driving, said it has never been a problem for her before. "It's never been a problem for me. I always keep my main focus on the road. I can see the danger for certain people, but over-all, I think it's minimal."

"An [Ontario Progressive Conservative] Member of Provinvcial Parliament, John O'Toole, has introduced a bill which we have lent our support to," Leonhardt added.

"The bill is about road safety in a broad sense. It discourages and penalizes the use of hand-held technologies," O'Toole said.

He explained the use of hand-held cell phones is dangerous because the operation of the cell phone distracts drivers, but hands-free devices for cell phones are considered safer because the driver can keep both hands on the wheel. "The most important thing isn't the conversation, it's the operation," he said.

According to O'Toole, there is still discussion regarding whether the bill would be considered a careless driving offence, or whether it would be a separate offence similar to a seat belt infraction.

"There has to be a drive to bring public attention to [the dangers of using a cell phone while driving]," O'Toole said. "It's important for the government to look at public safety on our highways."

Const. Paul Ladoceur, of the London Police, said a good way to increase safety is to use hands-free sets for cell phones. "The use of cell phones in cars ties up [drivers'] hands."

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2000