Hands-free technology for township works crews?

Hands-free cell phones may be the future for some township staff in Wellington North Township.

A report to council from Works Sup­erintendent Gary William­son stated new regulations will come into effect this fall making it illegal for township staff to use cell phones while driving.

“We need to decide if the township is going to supply hand-free devices – and if so, for which staff,” said Williamson.

All the new phones must also have Bluetooth capabilities, so the older phones would have to be replaced.  Bluetooth is a new technology that allows different devices from different manufacturers (and, in the case of cell phones, different pro­vid­ers) to talk to each other on a shared wireless platform.

If hands-free devices are not provided, staff still have the option of letting calls go to voice mail or pull over to respond to the call. The estimated cost for new phones is about $135 for a visor unit or $95 for a headset.

The new phones must also be recharged the same as a cell phone.The works committee agreed the works foreman will likely need one of the  new phones, but any replacement is on hold until the municipality hears a proposal from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to allow works staff to be exempt from the new law.

At a recent council meeting, Councillor Dan Yake said the issue of the hands-free phone technology arose at the water and sewer and the works committees.

He said this legislation is coming into effect this Sep­tember, where cell phone use inside vehicles is supposed to be hands-free.

“For municipalities, AMO is working to exempt them, but we haven’t heard back from them yet. We’re waiting to see what’s going to happen.”