A bronze "lady justice" (blindfolded robed woman carrying a sword, point down, in her right hand, and a set of scales, held up, in her left hand) against a dark background

Don’t Look!

A bronze "lady justice" (blindfolded robed woman carrying a sword, point down, in her right hand, and a set of scales, held up, in her left hand
This morning on my way to work, I was part of a traffic stop/diversion by city police doing a sweep for lapsed licenses/registrations. It went smoothly and I was in and out in about five minutes. The officers who were checking my deets noted my phone mounted to my windscreen/dash (the phone was turned off; I only use it for listening to books/music and sometimes navigation, and I don’t need to touch it…whyyyyy is this post suddenly sounding so filthy?). They said my phone mount was illegal. I asked if that was because it was mounted to the windscreen. They said no, any mount – dash, windscreen, vent – is illegal. This surprised me.

According to SGI, dash mounted phones are okay. But the officers told me the legislation says you can’t “hold, view, or manipulate” phones at all.

So I read the Traffic Safety Act.

Here’s the scoop: You cannot

operate or cause to be operated on a highway [this includes city/town/municipality streets] a vehicle equipped with a television set, video screen, or computer screen

Now, if you have your seventy-inch TV securely mounted in your vehicle and it doesn’t fuck up your view and you can’t actually SEE the screen, it’s okay (ie. if you have lil screens in the back, that’s fine as long as you’re not driving your car from the back seat).

And of course there are exceptions for peace officers and emergency workers, etc..

You CAN look at a screen as a driver if the screen is ONLY used for the safety of the vehicle and/or passengers; if it’s a navigation screen; if it’s a clock; or if it’s displaying fares.


The VERY NEXT SUBSECTION, related *specifically* to electronic communications devices, including phones and tablets.

It is illegal to

hold, view , use or manipulate electronic communications equipment while driving a motor vehicle on a highway.

Full stop. (Emphasis mine.)

The only exceptions are to report an emergency to police, fire department, EMS, or to call for an ambulance; and for experienced drivers (ie. not a “new driver” means any driver under the age of 19 or anyone else who falls into the category “prescribed person or member of a prescribed class of persons”, which is a phrase that gives me the SHIVERS) who use a one-touch phone call and are not holding the device; or to make a voice-activated call and are not holding the device.

It doesn’t matter if your screen is turned off, apparently. If you can see it, it’s illegal.

This isn’t a huge deal for me, because the only time I have the thing on is when I’m using navigation, which ?seems to be? a legal use of a device with a screen, except that latter section seems to say you can’t use your phone for navigation? I’m happy to keep my phone in my pocket and let the Phone Person tell me where and when to turn.

CLEARLY I’m not a lawyer; I’m just someone who likes reading legislation.

I didn’t get a ticket for having my phone mounted to the windscreen; the officers just informed me I *could be* fined, if traffic police stopped me.


3 responses to “Don’t Look!”

  1. Melissa Avatar

    Wow. So they need to tell all of the Uber drivers that. Nearly everyone uses a phone for navigation.

    And many vehicles are now fitted with screens on their dashboard which use their smartphone for navigation.

    How are they going to enforce that?

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      I believe Uber drivers (and taxi drivers) are able to use screens to navigate. I suspect they’re included in the “prescribed persons” clause.

      As to the screens on dashboards, that’s allowed by the legislation (it’s part of the exemption from the first section).

      How do they enforce it? They pull people over in traffic. Sometimes the police ride the bus so they can see into peoples’ cars (I think they radio ahead to enforcement officers) – this last one was publicised and was very cool. Basically, they enforce it when they catch you doing it. Having said that, the number of people who must have VERY interesting crotches has umptumpled in the last few years.

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    I don’t remember what we used to be able to do with books on cassette tapes, but that – or listening to random radio stations – made long drive reasonable. But you could put the next tape in without taking your eyes off the road, if you were organized.

    Many people use their phone to listen to audiobooks – as long as they’re not in heavy traffic or weather conditions requiring more attention, a book is no worse than a talk radio station. They’d probably not ticket you for listening to talk radio – but it could be very distracting sometimes.

    Hard to make laws/rules which make sense all the time. There are always such logical exceptions. But lack of attention to the road and driving conditions can easily be fatal.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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