Distracted driving penalties, cyclist safety, and the safety of the drivers and occupants of roadside emergency vehicles among some of the new changes to come into effect September 1, 2015.
New rules and penalties come into effect after this summer's passing of the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act.
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"Ontario's roads are among the safest in North America and this new legislation is intended to keep it that way. I look forward to continued collaboration with our law enforcement and other dedicated road safety partners to implement these measures," said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation in a media release at the time the legislation passed.
New Ontario driving laws and penalties
With portions of the new Act in effect September 1, drivers can expect:
Increased fines for distracted driving. The penalty for distracted driving is now a minimum $490 (which includes the set fine as well as the Victim Fine Surcharge and court costs) and three demerit points. Novice drivers will be looking at a licence suspension upon conviction: 30 days for the first conviction, 90 days for the second, and a licence cancellation for the third.
Increased fines for "dooring" a cyclist. Fines start at $365 and will come with three demerit points. Additionally, where possible, drivers are expected to maintain a distance of at least one metre (about three feet) when passing cyclists. The fine for this infraction is $110 and two demerit points, unless it happened in a community safety zone. In community safety zones the fine is higher, $180 and two demerit points.
To `slow down and move over` for tow trucks too. When passing stopped police, ambulance or fire trucks with flashing lights, drivers are required to slow down and move over to an adjacent lane if possible. This has been a rule of the road for some time. Come September 1, if you see a tow truck with their amber lights flashing you`ll be expected to do the same. Fines for failing to move over when it`s feasible to do so will start at $490.
More new laws and penalties coming down the road
Some of the changes introduced in the Act will come into effect in 2016. These changes include:
To wait for pedestrians to fully cross the street. At school crossings and pedestrian crosswalks, drivers will be expected to wait for the pedestrian to completely cross the street before proceeding. Even if the pedestrian is no longer in your lane, you'll be expected to wait until they've safely arrived on the other side of the road. Fines are expected to range from $150 to $500, and will come into effect January 1, 2016.
To be treated the same for driving drugged as driving drunk. Roadside licence suspensions, vehicle impoundment and possible monitoring are up for grabs if thought to be driving drugged. These new penalties will come into effect in the fall of 2016.
Keep safety top of mind
Ontario's new road rules are intended to make our roads safer and failing to keep safety top of mind could result in a ticket, or worse. Tickets typically not only include fines (and potentially demerit points), but may also affect your auto insurance upon renewal (especially if you already have a ticket or two on your record). Pay less for car insurance; avoid getting tickets in the first place and help keep Ontario's roads safe.