ISSUE 2009-12: December 14, 2009

In This Issue

Cell Phones and Driving


Quick Links

Refusal of Unsafe Work Flow Chart

Copies of all the WorkSafeBC forms can be found here



If you have questions about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any health, safety or wellness issue, please contact Mark Grabas at 604.730.4509 or markg@bcpsea.bc.ca

Cell Phones and Driving

Say good bye to the days of talking, texting, emailing and drinking coffee while driving. Starting January 1, 2010, that will all change with amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA).

At that time, only hands-free cell phones and devices that require one touch to activate will be permitted. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will not be permitted to use hands-free phones in addition to other prohibited activity.


Currently, it appears January will be a month of consultation and education. However, starting February 1, 2010, there will be a fine in the amount of $167. If drivers are caught texting or emailing they will receive an additional three penalty points. Further, drivers in the GLP will receive the $167 fine and three penalty points for any violation of this legislation.

Summary of Changes

Below is a summary of the changes to the MVA set to come into force on January 1, 2010.

Prohibited actions and devices

  • No operating or holding hand-held cell phones or other electronic devices.
  • No sending or reading emails and/or texting (e.g., BlackBerry, iPhone, cell phone).
  • No operating or holding hand-held music or portable gaming devices (e.g., MP3 players, iPods).
  • No manual programming or adjusting GPS systems, whether built into the vehicle or not, while driving. Settings must be programmed before driving.

Permitted actions and devices

  • Hands-free cell phones that are built in or securely fixed to the vehicle, and used by pressing a single button — once only — in order to activate a hands-free device for incoming or outgoing calls.
  • Pre-programmed and voice-activated GPS devices.
  • Two-way radios for industry (e.g., trucking, logging, oil and gas).
  • Any of the above devices can be used if the vehicle is legally parked and not impeding traffic.
  • Call 9-1-1 to report an emergency.

Graduated License Drivers (GLP)

  • In addition to the above restrictions and permitted actions, new drivers are prohibited from using hands-free communications devices, (e.g., cell phones), while driving.

What Should Districts Do?

District should consider whether the prohibition against the use of cell phones when driving will be codified in a district policy. If so, an option is to amend any existing cell phone policy or vehicle use policy. When drafting a policy, districts may want to consider the following:

  • Expectations for use and operation of district vehicles
  • Expectations for use and operation of cell phones
  • Responsibility for infractions
  • Discipline for repeated infractions
  • Payment of fines associated with violations, infractions, tickets or citations.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous holiday season.  

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