Ontario’s government has updated the province’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) with higher fines for distracted driving, and drivers who open a vehicle door into the path of a cyclist.
Distracted driving fines—which apply to the use of handheld devices while in a traffic lane—increase to anywhere between $300 to $1,000, plus three demerit points, up from the previous range of $60 to $500; the same fines will apply to a driver who “doors” a passing cyclist. Other HTA updates include stipulations that drivers must remain stopped at an intersection until pedestrians crossing a roadway have reached the sidewalk, and maintain a one-metre distance when passing cyclists.
Cyclists aren’t off the hook: fines for riders not using lights and reflectors at night go from a piddly $20 to anywhere from $60 to $500.
Other new rules apply impaired driving sanctions to drivers caught under the influence of drugs, a response to recent statistics suggesting that nearly half of drivers killed in Ontario had drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their bloodstream.
The HTA changes also allow a wider range of medical professionals to declare a patient unfit to drive, and add to the number of Provincial Offences Act fines that must be paid before license plates can be renewed.