Section 78 Paragraph (1) - What Are The Limits?

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Section 78 Paragraph (1) - What Are The Limits?

by: Kai on


Section 78 "Display screen visible to driver prohibited", paragraph 1 (see:, states that "No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver."

My question is as follows: is it legal for a passenger sitting in the front seat of a motor vehicle to operate a cellphone, tablet, or other handheld device with a screen if the screen is within line of sight of the driver? For example, if the passenger does not place some sort of obstruction in the path between the driver's eyes and their device, it is likely that the screen is within line of sight of the driver. Is this an offense against the Highway Traffic Act? If a passenger in the front seat is operating a mobile device with a screen, can the driver be ticketed?

I know someone who forbids anyone in the front seat from using a device with a screen. Can I simply hold my hand to the left side of my phone so that it is invisible to the driver? The person I know disagrees that doing that is good enough because the police officer has no way of knowing that the screen was, in fact, invisible to the driver, if we were pulled over.



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by: Zatota on

There's a Saskatchewan case from 2012, R v McNally ( ... kpc58.html) in which the driver had a "glowing screen" on the passenger seat. The officer charged him under the Traffic Safety Act. At trial, the judge ruled that the driver was paying more attention to the screen than to his driving. I would imagine a similar test would apply in Ontario. Obviously, if the passenger is holding the device in such a way as make it impossible or almost impossible for the driver to see it, that would be okay. But turning the device towards the driver would not be.

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