On June 1st, the ‘Making Ontario Roads Safer Act” (Bill 31) was approved unanimously by legislation. Enforcement of said Act will begin September 1st.
This means Ontario drivers can and will be facing some stricter rules and often much more severe punishments for certain offences come next week.
Love them or hate them, these new rules are here to stay. So familiarize yourself and get used to them.
1. Pedestrian Crossing
Drivers must wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road at crosswalks and school crossings. This change doesn’t actually take effect until January, but you should probably just start doing it now. Half of all fatal traffic accidents that involve pedestrians actually happen at intersections, so hey, just wait that extra two seconds. It’s not going to kill you, and it might kill somebody else if you don’t.
2. Passing Cyclists
Sometimes you get stuck behind a slow cyclist who just happens to think they are a car. We get it, we’ve been there. But you’ll have to resists the urge to pass them unless there’s ample space on the road, as you must now give at least a metre of clearance when you do… or be subject to a fine (the value of which is not yet set). Oh, and if you happen to open your door into the path of a cyclist without checking (or ‘by accident’), you’ll face a fine between $300-$1000 AND three demerit points on your license.
3. Distracted Driving
We shouldn’t have to remind you that texting, talking or checking Facebook on your phone while driving is a bad idea – because it’s a really bad idea. Currently the fine for this action is $200 and a few demerit points. But as of September 1, the fine will jump to $1000 and many more demerit points. In fact G1/G2 drivers could have their license suspended immediately. So put down your phones, people, and not just for the sake of your wallet.
4. The ‘Move Over, Important Things Are Happening’ Rule
If you see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing, you are now required by law to slow down and move to the next lane over. This also applies to stopped tow trucks that have their ambers flashing. Seriously, though, we don’t care how late you are for your yoga class, the emergency vehicle has an actual emergency. So don’t get in the way, OK? The fine for those who don’t follow this rule will be $490 and three demerit points.
5. Drugs and Alcohol
We’re hoping this one doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Obviously drunk driving is a terrible life choice, but now drivers caught under the influence of drugs will face the same stiff penalties as those driving under the influence of alcohol. So the next time you’ve got the munchies and want to hit Mcdonald’s drive-through, you’re going to have to settle for whatever is in the cupboard. Breaking this rule entails somewhere between a 3-90 day license suspension, a one-week vehicle impoundment and potential criminal charges.
There you go. Pretty easy, right? Basically, just don’t be a cyclist-hating drunk driver who doesn’t give a sh*t about ambulances.
Piece of cake.