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Ontario nixes Toronto proposal to ban texting and walking

File / Global News

TORONTO — Ontario won’t entertain a request from Toronto city council to ban pedestrians from texting while crossing the street, instead dishing out a bit of common sense advice.

“Keep your head up when crossing the road and always be aware of your surroundings,” said Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.

But as for legislating it province-wide, that would be a no.

READ MORE: Toronto city council asks province to ban use of cellphones while walking on roadways

“We have no plan to make changes to the Highway Traffic Act in response to this request,” Del Duca said in a statement a day after Toronto city council passed its motion.

“Municipalities are mature levels of government with powers to establish bylaws in the best interest of their communities. The City of Toronto has the power to pass a bylaw similar to the one requested yesterday.”

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A majority of city councillors voted to pass a motion to ask the province to consider making a regulation under the Highway Traffic Act to prohibit pedestrians from “texting actively using a handheld wireless communication device or handheld electronic entertainment device while using on any travelled portion of a roadway.”

READ MORE: Distracted walking isn’t a big problem. (Distracted driving is)

The motion was proposed as city council discussed its road safety plan by council speaker Frances Nunziata, who says since drivers can be fined for texting while driving, pedestrians who text while walking on a road should be fined as well.

“If you’re texting and driving and texting and walking across an intersection it’s the same,” Nunziata said.

“In my opinion that’s a safety issue and we should be asking the province to consider amending the regulations and allowing us to fine pedestrians as well as drivers.”

The city has set itself a goal of reducing the number of road fatalities to zero over a five-year period.

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