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New road rules, fines coming into effect

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Stiffer fines for driving offences will come into effect tomorrow.

Changes include tougher penalties for distracted driving, new rules to protect cyclists, and measures to ensure the safety of tow truck drivers and children riding school buses.

Distracted driving

The penalty for distracted driving will be $490 (including victim fine surcharge and court costs) and three demerit points.

The current fine is $60-$500.

Novice drivers will see a minimum 30-day suspension if caught driving distracted.

A novice driver is defined as one with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence.

Bike safety

The penalty for the “dooring” of cyclists or vehicles will be $365 and three demerit points.

The current fine is $60-$500.

Motorists must leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists or face a $110 fine and two demerit points.

The penalty increases to a $180 fine and two demerit points for failing to leave a one-metre distance when passing cyclists in a community safety zone.

Meanwhile, the penalty for improper lighting on a bicycle will be $110; this is up from the current penalty of $20.

A bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between a half-hour before sunset and half-hour after sunrise, and white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks.

Emergency vehicles

Motorists also must remember to slow down, move over for emergency vehicles stopped at roadside to assist other motorists.

This requirement will now apply to tow trucks stopped at roadside.

Violators will be fined $490.

School buses will be more recognizible—they will now be the only buses permitted to be chrome yellow.

More changes are on the way in 2016.

Effective Jan. 1, 2016, drivers must yield the whole roadway to pedestrians at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.

By next spring, municipalities will have enhanced ability to charge out-of-province individuals caught by red light cameras.

By fall 2016, there will be new penalties for drug-impaired driving that mirror penalties for alcohol-impaired driving.

The province also will extending remedial measures and ignition interlock requirements to any accumulation of alcohol/drug impaired driving under the Highway Traffic Act.

By spring 2017, there will be an expansion of licence plate denial for drivers who do not pay Provincial Offences Act fines for offences such as speeding, improper lane changes, illegal turns, driving without insurance and careless driving.

The province also will extend the Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program to repeat offenders.

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