Drivers in Ontario are now subject to new traffic laws as the province passed a new set of regulations in a bid to make driving safer in Canada’s most populous territory.
The new rules have been in preparation for several months after initially being improved in June. Known as Bill 31, the “Making Ontario Roads Safer Act” came into effect September 1st and is the province’s latest attempt to curb soaring road accidents and traffic related crimes.
The new bill brings harsher penalties for those who break traffic laws and also introduces new rules for the general driving population.
Distracted driving – Penalties for distracted driving a now more severe. This is mostly targeting for mobile device use, with Ontario clamping down on talking and texting on the phone, while also punishing those caught even looking at their device. The province is warning drivers will also face demerit points placed on their license. The fine is now set to $490, a significant rise over the previous $200 fine, while G1 and G2 drivers can have their permits suspended on the spot.
Pedestrian crossovers – Ministry of Transportation statistics show that nearly half of all fatal accidents related to pedestrians in Ontario happen at intersections. From now on drivers are required to wait until the pedestrian has crossed the entire road, including pedestrian crossings and school crossovers. This particular law on Bill 31 will not come into effect until January 2016.
Cyclists – Cyclists have been given more safety with drivers in Ontario now required to give at least one meter of room to bike riders when possible. There will also be penalties for drivers who open doors in front of a cyclist without checking beforehand, the fine for this will be $365, while three demerit points will be added to a license. The province has not yet stated the fine for drivers who do not give at least one meter of room to a cyclist.
Moving over – Starting Tuesday September 1st drivers will be obligated by law to respond to a stopped emergency vehicle (provided its lights are flashing) by slowing down and moving to the next lane. This law has been extended to also include tow trucks if their amber lights are flashing, failure to do so carries a fine of $490 and three demerit points.
Driving under the influence – While driving under the influence of drugs has carried different penalties to driving drunk in the past, that is now not the case. The province of Ontario has said drug-driving offences will now be subject to the same laws as drink drivers. The penalties now include a three-week to 90-day suspension of a license, the vehicle being impounded for seven days, and potential jail time. Ontario statistics show over 45 per cent of all motorists killed in the province are found to have drugs or alcohol in their system.