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Medical Journal Calls For Limits On Cellphone Use While Driving

TORONTO — Drivers speeding along a busy highway linking Toronto to nearby bedroom communities pass under a massive electronic sign that reminds cellphone owners: Drive now. Talk later.

If the Canadian Medical Association Journal had its way, that recommendation would be the law.

This week’s issue of the medical journal says it is time for governments to regulate the use in motor vehicles of cellphones and other distracting devices such as computers, fax machines and DVD screens.

“This is a no-brainer,” the journal says in an editorial published Tuesday. “Drivers who fail to exercise good judgment must be regulated to do so.”

“I think it’s a problem that needs to be solved,” editor Dr. John Hoey said, explaining the journal’s decision to take a public stand on the issue.

A number of countries have already banned the use by drivers of cellphones, including Brazil, Australia, Israel and Portugal. New York state recently introduced legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers.

Similar legislation has been discussed in a number of Canadian provinces. Officials in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have said they are looking at whether a ban is in order, while the legislatures of Ontario and Nova Scotia have seen the introduction of private members’ bills aimed at banning cellphone use by drivers, except in emergencies.

But so far, no Canadian jurisdiction has taken the step and opinion is divided.

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