Wilkinson announces tougher penalties for serious traffic offences

Ontario is cracking down on some of the most persistent, dangerous driv­ing behaviour John Wilkin­son announced  Dec. 14 – par­ticularly the need for all mot­or­ists to yield for emergency vehicles.

“I am pleased that our roads in Ontario are known as the safest in all North America,” said Wilkinson. “We need to work hard to change unsafe driving practices and help keep our motorists and more importantly – our families – safe. When lights on emergency vehicles are flashing, motorists need to pull over so that the men and women who risk their lives to save ours are allowed to travel safely on our roads.”

“This change in legislation fits into the focus of the OPP’s provincial traffic safety program, which aims to reduce injuries and save lives on Ontario’s highways, trails and waterways,” said Staff Sergeant J.B. (Joel) Skelding, of the Perth County OPP de­tach­ment.

“Drivers should always be aware of their surrounding and yield to emergency vehicles for the safety of everyone,” said Stratford Fire Services Chief Rick Young. “Also the public need to be mindful of the flashing green light of volunteer fire­fighters, as they may be re­sponding to an emergency in­volving someone you know and love”.

Effective Jan. 1, penalties for drivers who do not pull over and stop for emergency vehicles or who follow fire vehicles too closely will undergo the great­est change:

– first offence: a maximum fine of $2,000, three demerit points, plus a possible two-year licence suspension – up from the current maximum penalty of a $500 fine. 

– subsequent offences (with­in five years): a maximum fine of $4,000 fine, three de­merit points, a two-year driver’s licence suspension, and a six-month prison sentence – up from the current maximum penalty of a $500 fine.

Also effective Jan. 1,  pen­al­ties for the following offen­ces will increase: 

– failure to stop at a red light, the maximum fine will in­crease from $500 to $1000;

– failure to wear a seat belt and failure to ensure passengers under 16 are properly secured – the maximum fine will increase from $500 to $1,000; and

– careless driving and failure to remain at the scene of a collision , the maximum fine jumps from $1,000 to $2,000. 

Other existing maximum penalties for those offences will remain, including a two-year licence suspension and six-month jail term.