By now, everyone in this province should know that it is illegal for drivers to use hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. Research shows that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than drivers who keep their hands on the wheel and focus their attention on the road.
However, as part of its campaign to make the roads even safer against drivers that use hand-held electronic devices, the province has launched a new set of traffic laws that became effective September 1, 2015. It’s part of the province’s “Making Ontario Roads Safer Act” and Bill 31 was unanimously approved at Queen’s Park. This new legislation is designed to change current traffic laws with higher fines and additional penalties for distracted drivers using hand-held devices.
Tow trucks will now be treated like emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police cruisers and fire trucks under the “move over” law. If tow trucks drivers have their lights flashing, drivers must now slow down and move over. Those who fail to follow the new rule will face a fine of $490.
Drivers will need to be more aware of cyclists in their vicinity. If possible, motorists must leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists and will result in a $110 fine and two demerit points for failure to do so. In addition, there is a set fine of $365 and three demerit points for anyone who comes in contact with a cyclist when opening the car door or strikes a passing cyclist with their vehicle.
Cyclists will have to change their habits too. Bikes must now use the required bicycle lights and reflectors or face a set fine of $110. The bike must have a white front light and a red rear light. It must have a reflector if a cyclist wants to ride prior to sunset and before sunrise.
New rules beginning in 2016
There will be an update to the provincial penalties for those who drive under the influence of drugs and the same penalties as those caught driving under the influence of alcohol will apply. There is an automatic licence suspension for a period of 3 to 90 days. Additionally, the vehicle will be impounded for a week.
Starting January 1st, anyone who drives through a school crossing or a pedestrian crossover before a pedestrian has reached the other side of the road will face a fine between $150 and $500. Under the new law, the entire road will have to be yielded.
Here is a summary presented by News Ontario:
|Old||Penalty Effective September 1, 2015|
|Distracted Driving||$60 – $500 fine||$490* fine and three demerit points; minimum 30-day suspension for novice drivers|
|“Dooring” of cyclists or vehicles||$60 – $500 fine||$365* fine and three demerit points|
|Passing cyclists||None||Drivers must leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists or face a $110* fine and two demerit points; $180* fine and two demerit points for failing to leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists in a community safety zone|
|Improper lighting on bicycle||$20 set fine||$110* fine|
|Slow Down, Move Over||Slow Down, Move Over for emergency vehicles stopped at roadside to assist||Slow Down, Move Over requirement now also includes tow trucks stopped at roadside to assist; $490* fine for violation|
Please drive safely!