P.E.I. is enacting new laws in hopes of putting an end to a pesky problem that’s clogging up the emergency phone lines.
Under the proposed changes to the Emergency 911 Act, it will be illegal to program the emergency number into a phone.
It's estimated that 30 per cent of all the calls received by the phone service are accidental calls – or pocket dials. Officials said on P.E.I., dispatchers receive about 8,500 unintentional calls each year out of a total 30,000.
"There will be some time for people to get established and recognize that this is coming into effect," said Justice Minister Janice Sherry. She said pocket dialing is a serious problem that compromises public safety.
People who accidentally call 911 could now be fined as much as $500.
For people with pre-programmed cell phones, it will be their responsibility to disable the 911 feature, according to the group that represents cell phone carriers in Canada.
"We would encourage all manufacturers not to have a pre-program function in their wireless device," said Marc Choma of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
The new bill also contains measures to deal with security systems that automatically call 911 when an alarm goes off. It also calls for the elimination of duplicate street names to ensure emergency responders don’t go to the wrong location.
Sherry said it's expected the new legislation will pass during the current legislative session.