Thornhill, Ontario — June 3, 2015 — The province has announced the passing of Bill 31, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act. The amendment to the Highway Traffic Act and the Highway 407 East Act, 2012, passed third and final reading on June 2 at Toronto’s Queen’s Park.
The legislation zeroes in on several road safety issues Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) members have identified as high priority, including distracted driving, cycling initiatives, and slow down move over provisions for tow truck operators, CAA South Central Ontario stated in a release.
“For many years, CAA has been active advocating at Queen’s Park on many of the elements contained in Bill 31,” says Teresa Di Felice, CAA South Central Ontario’s Director of Government and Community Relations, and Driver Training. “As a tireless advocate for all road users, CAA is pleased to see significant changes to address distracted driving, improve cycling in our province and provide enhanced safety measures for tow truck operators providing service to motorists on Ontario’s roads.”
The association has long pushed for tow truck drivers to be added to the list of emergency roadside workers already protected under the province’s Move Over law. Under the act, Ontario will join five provinces with the legislation already in place — requiring motorists to slow down and move into an adjacent lane when approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
“Everyone deserves a safe place to work even in non-traditional environments such as the side of the road,” Di Felice says. “Extending slow down, move over protection will improve safety for both tow truck workers and motorists who are stopped due to mechanical failure, damage or collisions on Ontario’s highways and roads.”
The bill also proposes harsher penalties for motorists found guilty of distracted driving. Set to take effect this fall, offenders will face increased fines — ranging from $300 to $1,000 — and three demerit points. New drivers will receive an immediate 30-day suspension on first offence.
Bill 31 aims to further improve road safety by permitting cyclists to ride on the paved shoulders of unrestricted highways, and enforcing drivers to allow 1 metre of room when passing a cyclist.
For more information on CAA and its efforts, please visit caasco.com/community-action.
To read Bill 31 in full, go to ontla.on.ca.