Cell phones and driving: laying down the law

  • September 28, 2022
  • Road accident, Driver’s licence, Transports
Femme plaçant son cellulaire sur un support fixé au tableau de bord de sa voiture

Cell phones or any other electronic devices are distractions for drivers. As a result, for safety reasons, their use is prohibited behind the wheel, except under certain conditions, as follows.

Touching is using

Holding an electronic device in your hand (or between your shoulder and your ear), is using the device. At the wheel, it’s prohibited, unless you’re calling 9-1-1.

In all other situations, using an electronic device such as a cell phone is only tolerated if it is a hands-free device.

To look at or use the device screen, all the following rules must be obeyed:

  1. The information displayed on the screen must be driving-related. You can check your itinerary (GPS), road or weather conditions, system activation (parking assistance, anti-skid, electric drive/gas), etc.
  2. The device must be mounted on an attached support or be integrated within the vehicle. Consulting a passenger’s phone is therefore prohibited.
  3. The device must be safely positioned:
    - It must be easy to consult and use (voice commands are preferable).
    - Its position must not hinder driving, for example, interfering with driving manoeuvres or field of vision.
    - Its position must not pose a risk of injury in the event of an accident.

What if I’m not moving?

When you’re behind the wheel, you must be legally parked if you want to:

At a red light, or in a traffic jam, you’re considered to be driving, even if the vehicle isn’t moving. Use of a cell phone if not in hands-free mode remains prohibited. Remember that on the highway, the shoulder is to be used for emergency situations only.

The rules for using an electronic device at the wheel are strict. Failure to obey them leads to:

Questions or problems?

To find out more, see the Highway Safety Code and the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) website.

Dissatisfied with SAAQ services? You can turn to the Québec Ombudsman. We handle complaints concerning Québec government departments and public agencies, including the SAAQ. Our services are free and confidential.