New traffic rules, heftier fines introduced for Quebec drivers, cyclists

The province has updated its Highway Safety Code by adding new rules and modifying others. They come into effect Friday, May 18.

Numerous changes to Quebec’s Highway Safety Code include curfews for new drivers, steeper fines

The new Highway Safety Code includes minimum fines for cyclists of $80. For drivers who illegally park in a disabled spot, the fine will be at least $200. (Charles Contant/CBC)

If you're a driver with a learner's permit, you'll have to be off Quebec roads between midnight and 5 a.m..

The curfew is just one of the dozens of new or modified rules of the province's updated Highway Safety Code.

The changes come into effect today and will mean everyone who uses the road — pedestrians, cyclists and drivers — will have to form some new habits.

Montreal police spokesperson Insp. André Durocher says officers will focus on educating drivers about the new rules in the first few days.

"Of course, in the days following the time that they come into effect, judgment is always there.... We ask our officers in the coming days to do more education than enforcement," Durocher said. 

"It's only fair, people have to get used to it."

Here are some of the changes in the Highway Safety Code that kick in today:

Car and motorcycle drivers

  • Eye protection: "The driver of a motorcycle must wear personal eye protection."
  • Clear your vehicle: "A vehicle covered with any material, such as snow or ice, which may become detached and is likely to be dangerous, may not travel on a public road."
  • No changing lanes at an intersection: "Changing lanes in an intersection is prohibited, unless authorized by a sign."
  • Extra lights: "When equipment installed on a vehicle obstructs the original lights or headlights, auxiliary lights or headlights must be added."

Cyclists

  • Stopping for a school bus: A cyclist who is approaching a bus or minibus used for the transportation of schoolchildren, whose flashing lights are activated or whose stop arm is deployed, must stop at a distance of more than five metres from the vehicle."
  • Signalling: "Cyclists are no longer required to signal their intentions to slow down or stop. However, they must continue to signal their intentions to turn, but they are no longer required to do so if it endangers their safety."
  • On the sidewalk: "A municipality may, by means of signage, allow cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. In this case, they must then proceed at a reasonable and prudent speed, and give priority to pedestrians.
  • On the shoulder: "Cyclists can ride on the shoulder in the same direction as traffic."

Pedestrians

  • A safe distance: "Drivers of road vehicles must slow down and maintain a distance of 1.5 metres on roads where the limit is more than 50 km/h and one metre on roads where the limit is 50 km/h or less between their vehicle and a pedestrian on the roadway or on the shoulder.
  • Crosswalks: At a pedestrian crossing, pedestrians have priority as soon as they show their intention to engage.

Curfew for new drivers

New drivers in Quebec will have a curfew to abide by, or risk getting four demerit points and a fine that ranges from $200 to $300.

Drivers of a passenger vehicle or a motorcycle who hold a learner's permit cannot be behind the wheel between midnight and 5 a.m.

The new Highway Safety Code also sets a limit on the number of young passengers allowed in a car if the driver is under the age of 19.

"Drivers aged 19 or under, who hold a probationary licence, are limited in the number of passengers aged 19 or under who can be transported between midnight and 5 a.m. The limits apply only during the first 12 months of driving following the issuance of the driver's licence," the new rule stipulates.

Some exceptions are allowed.

Steeper fines

  • Seat Belt: "The range of fines for not wearing a seat belt is now $200 to $300."
  • Motorcycle helmet: The range of fines for not wearing a helmet will now be $200 to $300."
  • Use your flasher: The range of fines for drivers not signalling their intention is now $100 to $200.
  • Follow orders: "The fine for drivers of road vehicles that do not obey the orders of a flagman, a crossing guard or a peace officer is doubled. The range of fines is now $200 to $400. The number of demerit points increases from three to four."
  • Penalties for cyclists at least $80: "Fines for offences committed by cyclists have increased. They are now $80 to $100. The penalty for an offence committed by any other non-motorized vehicle user (e.g. non-motorized foot scooters, roller blades, skis) is now $80 to $100." The former minimum penalty was $15.
  • Reserved parking for electric cars: "Anyone who contravenes the use of a parking space reserved for a rechargeable electric vehicle is liable to a fine of $100 to $200."
  • Disabled parking: "The range of fines for a contravention of the use of a parking space reserved for disabled persons is now $200 to $300."

For the entire Quebec Highway Safety Code, go here.

With files from CBC reporter Matt D'Amours

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