Bill 31: What You Should Know
Bill 31 is Changing the Rules of the Road
In June, with unanimous support from all three political parties, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 31, also known as the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act.
CAA has long been advocating for tougher penalties for distracted driving, as well as safer conditions and protection of tow trucks drivers working on Ontario’s roads. These issues are both addressed in this new legislation.
HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW:
The Bill will increase current fines from $60 – 500 to $300 – 1,000 along with three demerit points that will be applied upon a distracted driving conviction.
Drivers who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to be in a collision than those who focus on the road. The Ontario Provincial Police has reported in recent years that distracted driving accidents have been higher than both impaired and speed-related fatalities.
CAA continues to encourage drivers to leave the phone alone and always stay focussed on the road.
According to the 2012 Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, there were 26 cyclist deaths and over 2,300 injuries in 2012, compared to 12 cyclist deaths and over 2,000 injuries in 2008.
The Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act will help to promote a safe and shared road environment in order to help promote cycling as an active and safe mode of transportation. The legislation will improve cyclists’ safety in a number of ways:
- Cyclists are now permitted to use the paved shoulders on unrestricted provincial highways.
- Drivers are to keep a distance of one metre when passing cyclists.
- It is now permitted to use flashing red lights as a safety feature on bicycles.
- Increasing the fine range for convictions of ‘dooring’ cyclists to $300–1,000 and raising the amount of demerit points to three.
- Raising the fine from $20 to a set fine amount from $60 to $500 for neglecting to use bicycle lights or other reflective materials.
Slow Down Move Over
The legislation expands on the current Slow Down, Move Over requirements found in the Highway Traffic Act, which requires drivers to move to the farthest right lane/shoulder and stop upon noticing an incoming emergency vehicle (coming from any direction) with sirens or flashing lights operating. The new legislation now includes tow trucks stopped at the side of the highway with their amber lights flashing.
Motorists are required to slow down and, if possible, change lanes when they drive by emergency vehicles and tow trucks stopped at the side of the road.
The fine for drivers who don't slow down or move over is $400 and the penalty is three demerit points.
Another significant addition of the bill is drug impaired driving. For the first time, the provincial government has introduced rules for drug impaired driving. These rules mirror those already in place for alcohol-impaired driving including a license suspension of up to 90 days and a seven day vehicle impoundment.