Update: see previous posts – June 3/15 New Ontario Road Laws Will Cost Ontarians Huge, June 2/15 Bill 31, Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act (Making Ontario’s Roads Safer), 2015 Receives Royal Assent
Motorists need to keep their “heads up” and not succumb to distractions as the province gets ready to enforce stiff fines of up to $1,000 this fall, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said Monday.
Starting tomorrow, the penalty for distracted driving includes a $490* fine and three demerit points for those who are convicted. A Novice Driver (without a full “G-Licence”) convicted of Distracted Driving (A novice driver is one with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence.) face a minimum 30-day suspension (suspensions to be increased on any subsequent convictions) in addition to the other penalties.
Dooring: this involves the act of a driver or passenger opening a door, on either side of the vehicle, where a cyclist ends up coming into contact with that opened door. Either the driver or passenger can be charged. The Fault Determination Rules in Regulation 668 under the Insurance Act of Ontario finds that any driver or passenger that opens the door of the vehicle, on the driver’s side or passenger side is 100% responsible for any incident where a cyclist comes into contact with that door.
Drivers convicted of “dooring” cyclists will now be fined $365* and will also receive three (3) demerit points. Motorists will also be required to leave a one-metre distance where possible when passing cyclists or they could be fined $110* and receive two (2) demerit points.
Cyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road also face increased fines under the new law.
For those who don’t use the required bicycle lights and reflectors, they could face a set fine of $110*.
The new legislation states that drivers must leave a safe passing distance between their vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road. Those who don’t slow down and move over for tow trucks could face a $490* fine.
* = Fines as listed include the Victim Fine Surcharge and Court Costs.
While police could start charging the new fines Sept. 1, the government is planning a public education to make drivers aware of the higher fines and other changes unanimously passed by the legislature in June.
“If current trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving by next year,” Del Duca warned as the Canadian Automobile Association launched its own driver awareness effort.
Here are the most important changes everyone using the roads needs to know:
FINES: Will increase significantly for distracted driving to between $300 and $1,000, along with three demerit points upon conviction. That’s up from the current $60 to $500 and no demerit points. There will also be escalating sanctions upon conviction for novice drivers. “Research suggests that a driver who uses a cellphone is four times more likely to be in a crash,” Del Duca said.
BOOZE AND DRUGS: Not only is there drunk driving, there is drugged driving. Accordingly, drug-impaired drivers will face the same penalties and sanctions as drunk drivers in terms of roadside licence suspensions of three, seven, 30 and 90 days along with seven-day vehicle impoundments and monitoring for repeat offenders. More than 45 per cent of drivers killed in Ontario were found to have drugs and/or alcohol in their system, according to the ministry of transportation.
PEDESTRIANS: To increase safety margins, drivers must wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crosswalks. About one in five vehicle-related fatalities involve pedestrians, says the ministry. Almost half of those occur at intersections. To help improve safety, municipalities will be able to request new pedestrian crossings on low-speed and low-volume roads.
CYCLISTS: Face fines from $60 to $500 for not using required lights and reflectors, up from $20. Motorists who “door” cyclists will face fines of $300 to $1,000, about double the current level, and three demerit points, up from two at present. Drivers passing cyclists on the road will also have to keep at least one metre away, where practical, with motorists who are convicted of coming too close getting two demerit points. Cyclists will be allowed to use the paved shoulders on provincial highways – other than restricted-access highways like the 401 – instead of riding in main lanes.
A bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between ½ hour before sunset and ½ hour after sunrise, and white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks.
TOW TRUCKS: Motorists will be required to slow down and move over when passing tow trucks with the amber lights flashing on the side of the road, just as they must when passing police and other first responders. “Tow truck drivers can face significant risk when they help motorists on the roadside of busy highways,” Del Duca said.
SCHOOL BUSES: Under Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, Bill 31 School buses will be more recognizible — they will now be the only buses permitted to be chrome yellow. Drivers failing to stop for a school bus can be fined up to $2,000 and six demerit points for a first conviction.
The Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, Bill 31 will:
- Increase fines for distracted driving from the current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000, assign three demerit points upon conviction, and escalate sanctions for novice drivers who are convicted.
- Apply current alcohol-impaired sanctions to drivers who are drug-impaired.
- Require drivers to let pedestrians completely cross the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.
Increase fines and demerit points for drivers who “door” cyclists, and require all drivers to maintain a minimum distance of one metre when passing cyclists where possible, as well as allow cyclists to use the paved shoulders on unrestricted provincial highways.
- Help municipalities collect unpaid fines by expanding licence plate denial for drivers who do not pay certain Provincial Offences Act fines.
- Allow more qualified medical professionals to identify and report medically unfit drivers and, clarify the types of medical conditions to be reported.