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It’s easy to forget some of the rules of the road - particularly for those of us who passed our driving tests years ago. There are many road safety laws, some more obvious than others. As a driver, it’s your obligation to keep your knowledge up-to-date, and that includes refreshing your memory on some of the lesser-known laws. Here are six road laws you may accidentally be breaking every day, without even knowing it. 

1. Cutting a crosswalk early

Have you ever seen a car hurry through a pedestrian crosswalk on their side of the road when a pedestrian was in the other half of the walk? At crosswalks, the pedestrian has to fully clear the crosswalk and be back on the sidewalk before you can proceed.

If you’re caught not waiting for them to clear, you could be handling a fine between $150 and $500 as well as three demerit points. Do it in a school or community safety zone and these penalties could double. The justification for this is pretty clear: a vehicle on the other side seeing traffic might not be aware that there is still a pedestrian crossing the road and could risk a collision.

2. Distracted driving isn’t just about texting

Applying lipstick on your commute to work? Snacking with both hands on the highway? These are all examples of distracted driving. That’s right – it’s not just limited to your phone. You might not always get pulled over for eating or primping on the road, but an accident that occurs as a direct result of distracted driving could stick you with charges and liability.

3. Obscuring the windshield

We all like to deck out our ride, whether it’s with dashboard dolls, window stickers or rear-view mirror accessories. But those dreamcatchers or fuzzy dice may result in a fine of $85 in Ontario, that is if they obstruct your vision out of the front windshield. Make sure you always have a clear, unobstructed view out of your car - it’s not just safe, it’s the law.

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4. Failing to lower high beams

Late at night, our high beams are great for increasing our field of view, but they can seriously obstruct the view of oncoming drivers when left on, increasing the chance of an accident. Always consider other drivers during these times, and make sure you’re quick to flip off the high-beams. Failing to do so could result in a fine of $85.

5. Failing to leave one metre while passing a bicycle

Do you keep at least one metre between your car and road cyclists? If not, each offence in Ontario could leave you with a $110 fine and two demerit points. Although bicycle lanes are now commonplace in Ontario, they aren’t everywhere, and ensuring cyclists stay safe means giving them more room in case an accident occurs. Understand that cyclists are at much greater risk on the road than drivers are, so keep an eye out for them and give them a wide breadth.

6. Driving too slowly

Slow drivers can be infuriating, especially if you’re in a rush. Although slowing down is one of the safest ways to prevent accidents – especially in lousy conditions – driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as driving too fast – particularly on highways.

Driving at an unreasonably slow speed could impede traffic and run the risk of an accident. It can also stick you with a fine between $85 to $120.

A sensible slow driver should watch traffic in the rear-view mirror and move out of the way to let others by if it’s safe to do so. This is both courteous and keeps safety in mind. If you are a slow driver and have an assembly of followers behind you, remain at that slower speed and allow them to pass by when you reach a section of passing lane. If there is no passing lane and an area to pull over is available, use it. Remember to keep right on multiple-lane highways.

Once you pass your driving test, you may think you’ve learned everything there is to know about the rules of the road. A lot of traffic laws seem like common sense, but it’s easy for some to slip by. We hope these reminders help you keep a watchful eye when you’re driving, so your experience on the road is safe and enjoyable!

Have you broken any of these laws without knowing it? Tweet us @OnliaCA #OnliaCA.

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