Use of electronic devices while driving

Part 3.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act prohibits the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.

The Use of Electronic Devices While Driving Regulation are rules about how drivers must use permitted devices.

This page shows examples of banned and permitted devices. It also illustrates how permitted devices are to be used.

A driver must not:

  • Hold, operate, communicate or watch the screen of a hand-held electronic communication device
  • Send or receive text messages or email on any type of electronic device, or
  • Hold, operate, communicate or watch the screen of a hand-held electronic computing device, one of the purposes of which is to process or compute data

These prohibitions do not apply if the driver is:

  • Safely parked and off the roadway, or
  • Making an emergency call to 911

Drivers in the graduated licensing program are prohibited from using any electronic device while driving. This includes:

  • Navigation devices
  • Hands-free units, and
  • Permitted devices

These prohibitions do not apply if the graduated licensing program driver is:

  • Safely parked and off the roadway, or
  • Making an emergency call to 911

Hands-free communication

A person may use an electronic device in a hands-free telephone function while driving if:

  • The device, and any part or extension of it, is not held or operated by the hand
  • It is voice-activated or requires only one touch to start, accept or end a call
  • It includes an earpiece, that earpiece can be worn in one ear only and must be placed in the ear before driving*
  • It is securely fixed to the vehicle or worn securely on the person’s body, and is within easy reach of the driver’s seat
  • It is installed so it does not obstruct the driver’s view of the front or sides of the motor vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the motor vehicle

*Motorcyclists are exempt from the one ear rule and may have an earpiece in both ears.

Please note: Manual dialing is prohibited and is treated as texting. Any type of an electronic device with a hands-free telephone function may be used for oral communications if used in a completely hands-free manner as described above.

Example of a hands free device.

Example of a hands free device.

Example of a hands free device.

Hand-held audio players

A person may listen to sound from a hand-held audio player if:

  • It is not held in the person’s hand
  • It is securely fixed to the motor vehicle or worn securely on the person’s body in a manner that does not obstruct the person’s view of the front or sides of the vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the vehicle, and
  • It emits the sound through the speakers of the vehicle’s sound system

Please note: The driver may pre-program or set the device to play while the vehicle is safely parked and off the roadway.

Example of a hand held audio player.

Example of a hand held audio player.

Navigation systems

A person may use a global positioning system (GPS) for navigation while driving if:

  • It is programmed before the person drives or operates the vehicle
  • It can be programmed in a voice-activated manner
  • It is not be held in the hand, and
  • It is securely fixed to the motor vehicle in a manner that does not obstruct the person’s view of the front or sides of the motor vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the vehicle

Example of a navigation device.

Example of a navigation device.

Hand microphones

A “hand microphone” is a ½ duplex communication device used principally for commercial purposes.

It is a hand-held unit that:

  • Is both receiver and microphone
  • Is operated by a push and hold-to-talk function
  • Allows for oral communication, but not for the transmission and receipt of oral communication at the same time

A person may use a hand microphone while driving if:

  • It is within easy reach of the driver’s seat, and
  • It is securely fixed to the motor vehicle or worn securely on the person’s body in a manner that does not obstruct the person’s view of the front or sides of the vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the motor vehicle

Example of hand microphones.

Example of hand microphones.

Two-way radios

“Two-way radios” are ½ duplex VHF, UHF and HF communication devices transmit sound over a radio frequency.

Two-way radios are commonly used by:

  • Search and rescue teams
  • Commercial drivers
  • Long-haul truck drivers, and
  • Citizen band (CB) and amateur radio operators

They have a hand-held microphone connected to a transceiver unit and it is operated by a push and hold-to-talk function and allows for oral communication. They do not allow for the transmission and receipt of oral communication at the same time.

A person may use a two-way radio while driving if the transceiver:

  • Is within easy reach of the driver’s seat, and
  • Is securely fixed to the motor vehicle or worn securely on the person’s body in a manner that does not obstruct the person’s view of the front or sides of the motor vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the motor vehicle

Please note: Hand microphones, including two-way radios, may only be used in the push and hold-to-talk function while driving. Other functions on these devices cannot be operated by a driver while driving.

Example of a two way radio.

Example of a two way radio.

Television screens

A person may not have a television image displayed within view of the driver unless the image displays pictures, information or data solely designed to assist the driver in the safe operation of the vehicle or the safety and security of its load or its passengers.

The device must be installed so that it is securely fixed to the motor vehicle and in a manner that does not obstruct the driver’s view of the front or sides of the motor vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the motor vehicle.

Examples of televisions.

Examples of televisions.

 

Mobile data terminals

Mobile data terminals are non-hand-held computerized devices without a telephone function that are licensed through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada under the Radiocommunication Act.

These devices are used only to communicate with a dispatcher or control centre and where pre-packaged data are transmitted, point in time, over a set radio frequency.

Example of a mobile data terminal mounted in a vehicle.

Example of a mobile data terminal mounted in a vehicle.

 

Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) drivers

GLP drivers are not permitted to use any electronic device.

The use of any prescribed electronic device within the meaning of the legislation, including use of a hands-free communication device or other electronic device will result in a $368 fine and 4 penalty points

All drivers

The use of an electronic device that is not allowed for in legislation but that does not involve texting, emailing or dialing (such as talking on a handheld cell phone) will result in a $368 fine and 4 penalty points

The use of an electronic device for communicating with another person or another device by email or other text-based message (such as texting, emailing or dialing) will result in a $368 fine and 4 penalty points

See ICBC’s Driver Penalty Point Premium web page for more information.

Please note: Offences carrying penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition under the authority and discretion of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

If the driver is in the Novice stage, the 24 month Novice period starts again from the beginning once the prohibition is complete and the driver’s licence is returned to the driver.

Drivers who have two or more distracted driving tickets in a three year period will pay a Driver Risk Premium and could see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000 – an increase of $740 over the existing penalties.

This is in addition to their regular insurance premium.

See ICBC’s Driver Risk Premium web page for more information.