Drivers in British Columbia will have a one-month grace period after a sweeping cell phone ban takes effect January 1, the province's solicitor general announced at a busy Vancouver intersection Monday.

In just 11 days, drivers will only be allowed to use hands-free cell phones and devices that require only one touch to activate. A complete ban on text messaging will also be imposed.

Heed appealed to the public to abide by the new rules, saying it will make everyone on the road safer. He also defended the legislation.

"Making B.C. roads safer was an easy call," he told reporters.

Starting February 1, drivers caught talking on a hand-held device will receive a fine of $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing will be subject to three penalty points.

Six other Canadian provinces already have legislation in place restricting cell phone use.

This morning's announcement was made at the corner of Denman and Davie Streets in Vancouver's West End. Last week, an informal ICBC survey found 116 motorists talking or text messaging during the morning commute.

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Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said B.C. law enforcement agencies unanimously support the ban.

"This legislation provides Vancouver police with a valuable tool to improve road safety and better protect everyone on our streets," he said.

"Since driving is a full-time activity, distracted and inattentive drivers will be subject to both education and enforcement by the VPD in our efforts to improve safety for all road users."

New drivers in the graduated licensing program (GLP) will be barred from using all use, including handheld devices, hands-free devices and any form of text messaging.

Police, fire and ambulance personnel who may need to make calls during their duties, and motorists who need to call 911 are exempt from the legislation. The use of two-way radios for commercial or industrial vehicles will be permitted.