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Search And Rescue Concerns Over New Distracted Driving Laws

Vancouver/Coquitlam/Chilliwack – The penalty for distracted driving in BC is now $543. It tripled on June 1st, 2016.

“The thing you may not know is that using a hand held radio is considered to be the same as using a cell phone under this legislation. Since my SAR group issues radios to all team members, which we regularly use to coordinate while responding to a task, this is of particular concern to me. I thought that I’d highlight the issue to the SAR community at large.”

Those comments are from the on line blog from a 16 year Coquitlam SAR volunteer Mike Coyle.

While EMS crews are exempt from this rule, volunteers are not so lucky, according to Coyle. While they could be on a radio or phone, working a rescue, they could be breaking the law.

The irony is that they are trying to help a lost person, perhaps save a life.

Coyle talked with FVN’s Don Lehn about the controversy.

Coyle went on to post on his blog: While it may not be clear from reading the legal jargon, in this PDF published by RoadSafetyBC indicates that a “hand microphone” is legal under the following circumstances

  • Half duplex, push to talk
  • within easy reach of driver
  • attached to radio that is
    • affixed to the vehicle
    • attached to the body

The part of the legislation this part of the PDF is based on is as follows:

A person may use a hand microphone while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway if

(a) the device is within easy reach of the driver’s seat, and
(b) 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.

FVN put out a call to Chilliwack Search and Rescue and co-ordinater Doug Fraser said that while Coyle  has some valid points, he doesn’t think it is a critical issue. By shining light on the subject, he feels the new rules will be tweaked.


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