Police in Ontario not enforcing new law for drivers

Even though reports of cycling injuries linger, it seems like the new law is barely being enforced.
Even though reports of cycling injuries linger, it seems like the new law is barely being enforced. (Photo: REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez)

On September 1, 2015, the Ontario government amended the Highway Traffic Act to include a requirement for drivers to keep one metre from cyclists when passing them on the road. This requirement was a part of the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer bill that was passed in June 2015.

Has it made roads safer?

The new law has been in effect for nearly a year now and there are still quite a few incidents of cycling collisions that have led to injuries and death. Just last month, police were forced to deal with nearly 20 pedestrian and cyclist collisions on Toronto’s roads, which ended with injuries and the death of two cyclists.

Even though reports of cycling injuries and deaths linger, it seems like the new cyclist passing law is barely being enforced. Metro News reports that the Ontario Attorney General numbers show the new law has only led to 19 charges, with eight charges being laid in Toronto. Most charges were laid when the law was first implemented.

Why is the new law not being enforced? Is it because law enforcement is not aware of it, or just not familiar enough with it?

That doesn’t seem to be the case, given that law enforcement has given out a limited amount of tickets to people who failed to observe the new law, it’s just that they did most of it shortly after the law came out. So they do seem to be aware of the new law even though there is a lack of punishment for violating the rule.

Could it be that police don’t know how to measure whether a car is passing too close to a cyclist?

Ottawa police have now turned to technology in using sonar devices to measure the distance between a driver and a cyclist. Police there have recently conducted a traffic blitz for drivers who became too cozy with cyclists. Whether those drivers were actually issued tickets for violating the rule remains unknown.

Whatever the issue may be, there is little point in passing a law if it’s not going to be enforced.

If a driver were to be charged with passing too close to a cyclist, he or she would face a fine of $110 and the loss of two demerit points.

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