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Ontario drivers to face higher set fines for distracted offences, dooring cyclists

A cyclist rides east along Adelaide St. West past Bay St. on July 15 2014.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario drivers found guilty of dooring a cyclist or distracted driving will face higher set fines and demerit points as of Sept. 1, when new legislation comes into effect.

The "Making Ontario Roads Safer Act", or Bill 31, was unanimously approved in June with the goal of protecting cyclists.

Distracted driving: Under the new laws there will be a set fine of $490, three demerit points and a minimum 30-day suspension for novice drivers for distracted driving. The current minimum is $60. Fines could reach $1,000 and drivers with G1 or G2s could have their licenses suspended on the spot.

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'Dooring' a cyclist: 'Dooring' a cyclist will now carry a set fine of $365 and three points up from $60 and no points.

Passing a cyclist: A new law now means drivers must leave at least one metre when passing a cyclist or face a $110 fine and two demerit points. That fine jumps to $180 when the law is violated in a community safety zone.

Improper lighting on bicycle: Cyclists will also face higher fines under the new laws. The set fine for improper lighting on a bicycle will jump from $20 to $110 on Tuesday. According to the Highway Traffic Act, from a half-hour before sunset until a half-hour after sunrise bicycles must have a white or amber light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.

The fines listed include the Victim Fine Surcharge and court costs.

"Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Don't use handheld devices or cellphones while driving," said Stephen Del Duca, Ontario's transportation minister, Wednesday in York Region while standing in front of five children wearing bike helmets. "We also need to keep our cyclists, some of the most vulnerable road users, safe."

Starting Jan. 1, 2016, drivers will have to wait until a pedestrian has completely crossed the street at a crossover or school crossing before proceeding.

Starting in the spring cities will have more ability to charge out-of-province drivers caught on red light cameras and penalties for drug-impaired driving will mirror alcohol-impaired driving. Almost half of drivers (45 per cent) killed in Ontario have drugs or alcohol in their systems, according to Life Safer Ontario.

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