Nova Scotia

Changes to Nova Scotia's century-old traffic safety laws to take another year

A year after saying the Traffic Safety Act would be rolled out, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines says it's going to take another year to develop the appropriate regulations. He says the reason is the complexity of the new rules and the fact new vehicles are being added to the mix, including Segways and motorized scooters.

Act to include newer vehicles like Segways and motorized scooters

A file photo of busy traffic on a Nova Scotia highway in 2017. (CBC)

It took 86 years for the Nova Scotia government to rewrite the Motor Vehicle Act, so it may not be a surprise that it could take as much as another year to bring the new Traffic Safety Act into force, which will replace the Motor Vehicle Act.

Among other changes, the act creates a new category of road user, "vulnerable road users," which includes people who walk, cycle or emergency crews who work alongside roads and highways.

Motorists who injure or kill a vulnerable road user will see their fines double and their licences automatically suspended for up to six months after a conviction.

Bill 80 was introduced October 3, 2018, and was given royal assent on Oct. 11, along with 25 other pieces of legislation passed on the last day of the 2018 fall sitting.

Although it has been given royal assent, the final step before becoming law, the act will only come into force when cabinet decides it is ready.

Nova Scotia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

A year ago, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said it could take a year to draft the proper regulations. He's now saying another year may be necessary because of the complexity of the new rules and the fact new vehicles are being added to the mix, including Segways and motorized scooters.

"Getting the legislation through the House was probably the easiest part of the hill we had to climb," Hines told CBC News Tuesday at the Nova Scotia Legislature.

"A lot of the material is lodged in regulation, so now we're doing that tedius work to go through the regulations and to set the regulations in place. That involves a lot of consultation. It involves a lot of work, internally to get it done."

The minister said it's also likely provisions in the new law will be enacted in stages, rather than all at once.

He said officials within his department are setting priorities and working toward bringing in changes as they become ready, but the minister will not say which items are likely to come in first.

The new act also explicitly forbids drivers from using handheld devices such as cellphones or tablets while behind the wheel. Currently, the Motor Vehicle Act only forbids the use of a handheld phone to text.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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