- Helping you drive happy

Ontario toughens legislation to curb distracted driving

Cyclists will be better protected, but they too have new rules to obey By ,

Starting today, September 1st, Ontario will slap tougher penalties on distracted drivers while adopting new rules to protect cyclists and measures to ensure the safety of tow truck drivers and children riding school buses.

From now on, penalties for distracted driving in Ontario will include an increased set fine of $490 and three demerit points upon conviction. Novice drivers will receive a minimum 30-day suspension for the first conviction and longer suspensions for subsequent convictions.

The same fine will be handed to drivers who fail to slow down and move over for a tow truck stopped on the roadside to provide assistance (where possible).

Furthermore, opening a car door to purposely hit a cyclist will carry an increased set fine of $365 and three demerit points upon conviction. New rules will also require drivers to leave a one-metre distance where possible when passing cyclists, or they may face the penalty of a $110 set fine and two demerit points. On the other hand, cyclists who don't use the required bicycle lights and reflectors will face a higher set fine of $110.

Finally, school buses will be more recognizable -- they will now be the only buses permitted to be chrome yellow. Drivers failing to stop for a school bus can be fined up to $2,000 and six demerit points for a first conviction.