Smartphone usage in Canada increased every year since the launch of the original iPhone. While many provinces have banned the use of mobile device while driving, it looks like the City of Toronto wants to take things a step further.
During a city council session yesterday, Councillor Frances Nunziata put forward a motion to ask the province to ban anyone walking within the “travelled portion” of the city, that is its crosswalks, from using their smartphone. This was later changed to all mobile devices, leading the motion to pass with 26-15 votes in favour and with support from Mayor John Tory.
Section 7 of the minutes states, “That City Council request the Minister of Transportation to consider making a regulation under Section 185(1) of the Highway Traffic Act prohibiting pedestrians from actively using a handheld wireless communication device or handheld electronic entertainment device while using on any travelled portion of a roadway.”
Similar to using a mobile device while driving, pedestrians could be fined if caught using any mobile device, such as a smartphone, tablet or gaming console.
Of course, the proposal has a long way to go before it becomes law, and there’s no indication the province will actually listen to the city’s proposal.
It’s also hard to predict whether it will have any meaningful effect on increasing pedestrian and cyclist deaths. Just last week, in the span of 24 hours on Monday, July 4, there were 18 vehicle collisions involving 20 pedestrians and cyclists, resulting in the death of one 73-year-old man. The following day, a cyclist was killed at Christie and Dupont after he hit a parked car, trying to avoid a turning van.
Update: That was fast. Ontario’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca has already shot down the request, noting that pedestrians should simply be safe and keep their head up and be aware of the surroundings while crossing the road.