With the passing of the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act earlier this summer, there are some new rules of the road coming into effect September 1, 2015 that drivers need to know about to steer clear of tickets, fines, demerit points, and even licence suspensions.
New Ontario Driving Laws
In an effort to ensure Ontario’s roads and highways are safer, the new road rules have a common theme: respecting other people’s need for space to ensure their safety. Come September 1 drivers are required to:
- Give cyclists a bit of room
When passing cyclists, drivers must maintain a minimum distance of one metre (approximately three feet) where possible. The fine will be $110 (this includes the set fine, Victim Fine Surcharge, and court costs) and two demerit points. If you fail to give a cyclist the space needed in a designated community safety zone, the fine will be even greater at $180 and two demerit points.
- Related Read: 5 Must Read Tips For Being A Safer Driver
- Slow down and move over for tow trucks
Since 2003, drivers have been expected to slow down and move over for police and other first responders when stopped at the side of the road with their flashers on. The law now also applies to tow truck drivers as well. Fines will start at $490.
Increased traffic fines
Along with new road rules, the Act also introduced new penalties of existing laws to encourage compliance.
- Increased fines for distracted driving
Fines will increase to a minimum of $490 along with three demerit points. Novice drivers will be looking at a minumum 30-day licence suspension.
- Increased fines for "dooring" a cyclist
Fines will start at $365 with three demerit points.
- Increased fines for cyclists with improper lighting
Once a $20 fine, the new fines will be $110.
More changes to follow
The Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act included more changes, however, won't come into effect until later.
- Waiting for pedestrians to completely cross the road
At school crossings and crosswalks, drivers are expected to wait for pedestrians to safely arrive on the other side of the street before proceeding. Impatience could be costly as the new fines are expected to range from $150 to $500. The anticipated effective date is January 1, 2016.
- Driving while drugged to be treated the same as driving drunk
Roadside licence suspensions, vehicle impoundment and, for repeat offenders, monitoring are up for grabs if thought to be driving drugged. The new drug-impaired driving penalties are expected to come into effect in the fall of 2016.
Better safe than sorry
Sure, tickets and licence suspensions will mean your car insurance rates will likely increase, but what’s most important to remember is that these changes are about the safety of others on the road. Give people the space they need, don’t drive distracted or impaired, and watch out for cyclists.