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Getting Up to Speed on New Traffic Laws

Getting a traffic ticket

This summer here in BC, the Keep Right Let Others Pass law came into effect and while I don’t feel like we’re habitual left lane hogs, remembering to keep right is sometimes a challenge.

What is does the law entail exactly? Here’s a description from TranBC’s website:

“The new legislation prohibits driving in the left lane unless a motorist is:

  • overtaking and passing another vehicle
  • moving left to allow traffic to merge
  • preparing for a left hand turn
  • passing a stopped official vehicle displaying red, blue or yellow flashing lights, such as: police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, maintenance or construction vehicles.”

Generally, my better half and I are right-lane-unless-we’re-passing people, but I confess, sometimes the left lane just feels so right, like when you’re trying to avoid being stuck behind a big truck or when no one in the right lane keeping a consistent speed. Paying attention to staying in the right lane is worth it, though - the fine for left lane driving is $167 and three demerit points.

This week, several new driving laws come into effect in Ontario as well. Here’s a rundown:

Distracted driving: A lot of provinces have beefed up their distracted driving legislation this year and as of September 1, Ontario has some of the toughest fines in the country. The previous fine for distracted driving is approximately $200. As of September 1, if you’re found guilty of distracted driving, you could pay fines up to $1000 (depending on your driving record) and get three demerit points. If you have a G1 or G2 license, your license could be suspended on the spot.

Passing and “dooring” cyclists: Drivers must leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists or face a $110 fine and two demerit points; $180 fine and two demerit points for failing to leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists in a community safety zone. If you open the door of your vehicle into the path of a cyclist without checking first, you’ll face fines of between $300 and $1,000 and three demerit points.

The “move over” law: Starting September 1, you’ll be required to slow down and move into the next lane whenever you see a stopped emergency vehicle with its red and blue lights flashing or a stopped tow truck with amber lights flashing. Fail to do so and you can be fined $490 and three demerit points.

Ontario also has some upcoming changes to traffic law you might want to keep in mind, particularly the following:

Pedestrian crossovers: According to the Ministry of Transportation, almost half of all pedestrian fatalities take place at intersections. In an attempt to make the roads safer for pedestrians, a new pedestrian crossing law comes into effect in January 2016. You’ll have to wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road at pedestrian crossovers and school crossings before you proceed through the intersection. No word yet on what fines or demerit points will be imposed but best to start practicing this driving behaviour now.

Ontario is not the only province cracking down, particularly on distracted driving. In Alberta this March, the provincial legislature voted to increased fines for distracted driving - $250 from $172 and 3 demerit points. No word on when that bill will take effect. Take a look at Alberta's distracted driving legislation for more info. 

In Manitoba, as of July 1, drivers face harsher penalties for distracted driving – a minimum $200 fine and a whopping five demerit points. Fines could be higher, depending on a driver’s record and current demerit points. Manitoba also toughened its impaired driving laws; drivers caught driving under the influence now face a three day suspension from driving (compared to the previous law, which mandated only a 24hr suspension).

In Quebec this April, distracted driving demerit points were increased to 4. This has a big impact on new drivers in Quebec, who only have 4 points to begin with – they can lose their ability to drive after only one infraction. Fines starts at $115 for a first infraction.

This summer, Prince Edward Island increased their fines for distracted driving – they’re now the highest in Canada. Fines went from $250-500 to $500-$1200 and demerits rose from three to five.

Nova Scotia toughened up on distracted driving as well this year; violators can now be fined up to $578.95, depending on the number of offences on their record.

What do you think about these new traffic laws? Do you think they’ll help increase safety on the roads? Let us know in the comments.

- Rose R.



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R Hodges

And of course the onus is completely on the driver. I would suggest that cyclists and pedestrians often play a role in their own demise.
What if cyclists are driving two abreast (travel down 1A for a fine example of this) or the pedestrian is leisurely walking and texting while crossing the street (a typical downtown Calgary behavior).
Pedestrians who cross against the "DON'T WALK" signal often seem completely oblivious to the fact that a lineup of cars is waiting to turn left onto a one way. Other pedestrians just don't care. Calgary certainly needs to start handing out jaywalking tickets.


RE: Passing and “dooring” cyclists

Two lane road (two lanes for each direction)

What happens when cyclist use the red-light to come up beside the car right hand lane - inches to couple feet away - and when light changes, darts ahead of car, and right lane car has to pass cyclist and there is not room because of another car (in left lane), but pass's the bike ride with less than the one meter distance.

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