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3 New Laws to Know That Could Have a Big Impact on Road Safety

A look back at recent legislative changes from 2018

Woman driver in a car behind the wheel with the window rolled down engaging with a law enforcement officer

Ontario is recognized as having some of the safest roads in North America, and the new government is working hard to ensure the province retains this distinction. Keeping our roads safe requires continual and innovative efforts by the Ministry of Transportation to address the challenges we face. As the year comes to a close, it’s important to take a moment to recognize all the significant changes made in 2018 that helped advance road safety in Ontario. Here are some of the highlights.

Increasing pedestrian safety

Pedestrian fatalities are the most common type of road fatalities, and those over the age of 60 are twice as likely to be killed. On September 1, 2018, new measures came into effect to better protect pedestrians. Some of the penalties include increasing fines from $300 to $1,000 for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, crossovers and school crossings. Four demerit points will also be given upon conviction.

A new offence for careless driving causing death or bodily harm was also created. This includes a fine of up to a $50,000, along with a licence suspension of up to five years, six demerit points and up to two years’ imprisonment.

Preparing for cannabis legalization

Leading up to the national legalization of cannabis, the provincial government made amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. Beginning on July 1, tougher penalties for young and novice drivers who have alcohol in their system took effect. Drug- and alcohol-impaired offences by young and novice drivers were aligned to ensure there is zero tolerance while they are in their formative years of driving and most at risk of being in a crash.

At the same time, new penalties were established for commercial vehicle drivers who have the presence of alcohol or drugs in their system. Drivers of vehicles that require an A-F-class licence or vehicles requiring a Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration (CVOR) are now prohibited from having any alcohol or cannabis in their system.

Distracted-driving changes are coming

Road-safety improvements continue into the new year, with the provincial government set to increase penalties for distracted driving on January 1, 2019. Alongside an increased monetary penalty of $615 (up from $490) and demerit points that already apply to distracted-driving convictions, drivers will now face escalating licence suspensions of three, seven and 30 days upon conviction. These additional measures will hopefully serve as a further deterrent for motorists, and help ensure that they focus on the road while operating their vehicle.

Learn more

Read about CAA’s ongoing work to support road safety in Ontario.

Image credit: istock.com/RyanJLane