Alert for Ontario Drivers: New Road Safety Laws Passed to Protect Pedestrians
As of January 1, 2016, new road safety laws have passed in Ontario. It’s important for all drivers to be aware of these new laws, primarily to protect the safety of pedestrians and avoid motor vehicle accidents – but also to avoid new fines.
The new law requires drivers (and cyclists) to stop and remain fully stopped until the pedestrians have crossed the entire roadway at:
- Pedestrian crossovers
- School crossings
- Any intersection with a crossing guard present
This means vehicles cannot drive through the crossover when their lane is clear; you must wait until pedestrians and crossing guards are safely on the sidewalk.
However, it is important to note that this rule does not apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections controlled by:
- Stop signs
- Pedestrian signals
- Traffic lights
The penalty for drivers and cyclists who break this new law is a fine of $150-$500 and up to 3 demerit points, with fines doubled in community safety zones (often on roads near retirement homes, schools, playgrounds, etc.).
What Is the Difference between a Crossover and a Crosswalk?
In broad strokes, this law means that drivers cannot drive through a crossover until pedestrians are on the sidewalk, but they can drive through a crosswalk once the pedestrian is out of their lane (unless a crossing guard is present).
It is therefore important to understand the difference between a crossover and a crosswalk. According to the Government of Ontario:
- Crossover: “Pedestrian crossovers are identified by specific signs, pavement markings and lights – they have illuminated overhead lights/warning signs and pedestrian push buttons.
- Crosswalk: “A crosswalk is a crossing location usually found at intersections with traffic signals, pedestrian signals or stop signs. A crosswalk can be the portion of a roadway that connects sidewalks on opposite sides of the roadway into a continuous path; or, the portion of a roadway that is indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs, lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway at any location, including an intersection.”
Why Was This Law Passed?
In a recent blog on the Ontario Injury Lawyers Association website, Michael Giordano writes “2015 saw 38 pedestrians struck and killed on Toronto streets – the most annual fatalities of this kind in the past five years. The most vulnerable pedestrians – young children and the elderly – account for the majority of these deaths, with over 60% being seniors.”
The new law addresses requests from many municipalities and safety organizations in Ontario to improve road safety for pedestrians, as well as the recommendations for pedestrian safety made in the Chief Coroner’s Report on Pedestrian Deaths in 2012.
It is every driver and cyclist’s responsibility to put safety first when driving, doing their part to avoid causing injuries and fatalities. With this new road law in place, Ontario can keep children, seniors, and every pedestrian safer when crossing the road.
Roger R. Roisy is an experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please contact us for immediate support and a free consultation.
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