The following guest entry by property manager and condo consultant Robert Buckler, RCM offers tips to property managers for dealing with the new ban on hand-held communication devices while driving.
I can only add: "Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel!"
Effective condominium managers spend more time communicating than in any other activity. They communicate by talking to board members, colleagues within the condominium management company, vendors, contractors, owners, potential services providers… the list goes on. Since condominium managers are often on the road, traveling between sites and the office or stuck in traffic, many of these conversations may take place on a cell phone, BlackBerry® or other mobile device.
As of October 26, 2009, Bill 118, a new law amending Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, comes into force. The legislation bans driving while holding or using a handheld wireless device of any kind, including devices used not just for voice conversations, but also texting, emailing, and even viewing the screen of a handheld GPS device.
This does not mean that managers cannot follow up with clients or conduct business while on the road, but rather that they must be sure to use a hands-free accessory for their mobile device at all times while in transit. To prevent being fined, property managers should refrain from sending email messages, even while at a full stop at a light or stop sign. If you are safely parked then the new legislation does not apply.
Let your board members and owners know about the new “rules of the road” with respect to using a mobile phone or other such device so that they are aware of this change and how it may affect your availability. Management companies may be implementing new policies regarding the use of mobile devices while driving, so make sure to find out if your company will roll out a new policy. If not, condominium managers should approach the executive or owners to suggest putting one in place. Implementing a safety policy related to this new law equally applies to employees and might extend to contractors hired by the condominium corporation, so board members should ensure that they advise all parties.
Remember to obtain a Bluetooth® or other similar hands-free accessory for your mobile device and make a habit of activating it every time you are on the road; otherwise, don’t answer a call, or just turn the device off altogether – that is what voice mail is for. Finally, as people adapt to this new rule, it is also a good idea to remember to ask those you are calling if they are driving and, if so, whether they are on hands-free. If not, ask them to call back when it is safe for them to do so.
Remember, safety first!