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Making Ontario's Roads Safer

Archived Backgrounder

Making Ontario's Roads Safer

Ministry of Transportation

To help prevent injuries and deaths on Ontario's roads, the Road Safety Act, 2009 contains a number of measures designed to combat some of the most persistent, dangerous driving behaviours on our roads today. 

Zero tolerance for young drinking drivers

Statistics show that the peak ages for drinking and driving collisions are ages 19, 20 and 21.  Ontario wants to put a stop to this trend by making it illegal for any person aged 21 or under to drive after drinking any alcohol. 

This means that drivers aged 21 and under in all licence classes will be required to have a zero blood alcohol concentration whenever they are behind the wheel. 

It is anticipated that this law will come into effect in summer 2010. 

Getting suspended drivers off our roads

Drivers suspended for driving-related reasons, such as drunk driving or speeding, are about four times as likely to crash as drivers suspended for non-driving-related reasons, such as not paying fines.

In Ontario, an estimated three-quarters of all suspended drivers continue to drive.  This legislation will help get these dangerous drivers off our roads by giving police the power to immediately impound their vehicles for seven days - at the roadside. 

It is anticipated that this law will come into effect by fall 2010. 

Countering Impaired Driving

Drinking and driving is a factor in about a quarter of all road fatalities every year.  To help police get drunk drivers off our roads, the legislation will allow police to immediately impound for seven days vehicles being driven by impaired drivers whose blood alcohol concentration registers at 0.08 or higher.  The same will go for any driver who drivers a vehicles that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device when one is required.   

It is anticipated that this law will come into effect by fall 2010. 

In addition, drinking drivers who register in the "warn range" on a roadside breath test who request a second test would be required to do so immediately after the police officer requests the surrender of his or her driver's licence. This legislative amendment will take effect May 1, 2009.

Other Road Safety Measures

The Road Safety Act, 2009 also contains a number of other important legislative measures and will be complemented by a number of proposed regulatory amendments that will help keep Ontario's roads safe, including:   

  • Encouraging safer driving behaviour by raising fines for many serious driving offences, such as failing to stop for a red light, not wearing a seatbelt, failing to ensure children are properly secured, and not moving over for emergency vehicles
  • Making school buses safer by adopting the Canadian Standards Association's proposed 2007 school bus vehicle standards
  • Recognizing power-assisted bicycles (also known as e-bikes) in legislation and setting out powers to regulate their operating requirements
  • Permitting the use of child car seats and restraints for children with medical conditions
  • Requiring child car seats to be used in vehicles registered outside Ontario.

In addition the following key changes have been made since the time of the bill's introduction that:

  • May allow seizure of the licence plates for seven days rather than the vehicle for commercial drivers caught driving while under suspension, with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08 or without an ignition interlock device if they require one as a condition of their licence.
Allow police to use a second road-side screening device or breathalyser machine.

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Driving and Roads