New legislation passed for distracted drivers in Ontario

TORONTO -- Ontario has passed new legislation to increase penalties for drivers who text or use a handheld phone, impose a one-metre distance rule between vehicles and bicycles, and hike fines for "dooring" a cyclist.

Fines for distracted drivers will increase from the old range of $60 to $500 to between $300 to $1,000 plus three demerit points.

Using handheld electronic devices while driving has been outlawed in Ontario since 2009, except for 911 emergency calls.

Police say distracted driving is becoming the No. 1 killer on the roads, accounting for more deaths than impaired driving or speed-related collisions.

Fines for opening a door into the path of a bicyclist will also increase to the same amounts as distracted driving, and motorists must leave a one-metre distance -- where practicable -- when passing bicyclists.

Drivers must also wait until pedestrians completely cross the road at school crossings and at crosswalks with pedestrian-operated crossing lights, and not yield just half the roadway as required under the old law.




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