New road safety laws came into effect Tuesday

September 2, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Ontario Drivers will have to be more cau- tious when driving if they want to avoid being charged under the new Ministry of Transportation of Ontario’s (MTO) laws, which came into play on Tuesday morning. The laws, which are designed to help protect cyclists and provide stricter penalties for distracted and impaired driving, could see increased fines and more li- cense suspensions for drivers.

Bill 31, known as the ‘Making Ontario Roads Safer Act’, received unanimous approval in June and came into effect on September 1. The new list of five laws includes heavier penalties for some previously existing laws.

The breakdown is as follows:

Distracted Driving – Anyone caught looking at their phones, texting or talking while driving will be facing larger fines and more demer- it points than under the former version of the law. The previous fine of $200 will now rise to a set fine of $490, along with three demerit points, for those found guilty and convicted of distracted driving. G1 and G2 drivers would face possible on-the-spot suspension of their licenses as well.

Pedestrian Crossings – Prior to making a turn or proceeding through an intersections, drivers will have to make sure pedestrians have finished crossing the road at all crosswalks and school crossings. This law, which aims to make roads safer for pedestrians, will not be implemented until January.

Passing Cyclists – Motorists passing cyclists on the road will now be required to provide cyclists with at least one metre of room when possible. Although a fine for anyone caught breaking this law has not yet been set, there has been an increase to the fines and penalties for motorists who open the doors of their vehicle onto the path of a cyclist. Drivers found guilty will face a set increased fine of $365 as well as three demerit points.

Move Over Law – Drivers are now required by law to slow down and if possible move into the next lane when they see an emergency vehicle with flashing red and blue lights (as well as amber lights for tow-trucks) stopped on the road. Breaking this law will lead to a $490 fine and three demerit points.

Alcohol and drugs – Anyone caught driving under the influence of drugs (including marijuana), will be facing the same penalties as drunk drivers. Included in those penalties is a potential 3-to-90 day licence suspension and a week-long impoundment of their vehicle.

“Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America, and we want to keep it that way,” said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Trans- portation in a statement Monday morning.

Included in the statement was a list of facts regarding the current state of driving in Ontar- io, such as, according to research, that a driver who uses a hand-held cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash.

“If current collision trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving by 2016,” wrote the MTO.

The statement also noted that drivers who $2000 and receive six demerit points for a first fail to stop for a school bus can be fined up to conviction.

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