When many people in Ontario think of the Highway Traffic Act, the first thing that likely comes to mind are cars, trucks, and commercial motor vehicles and speeding tickets. However, this body of law covers a very wide range of vehicles including farm vehicles and even horse drawn vehicles. Over 1.3 million offences appear before the Ontario Courts every year based on charges laid under the Highway Traffic Act. That’s a lot of charges. Charges that have been issued to regular people just like yourself. This week we’re going to take a look at a few fairly specific laws regarding slow moving vehicles and sleigh bells.
So, what can you do to avoid being charged by the police? The first best defence is to know the law and how it applies to you, so that you can drive safely within the legal requirements of Ontario. Sometimes people break the law purposely or try to break it ‘just a little bit’ for what they feel is a reasonably good motivation. Other times, accidents just happen due to factors that may or may not be within your control. The next thing you know, you’re stopped by the police and being handed a ticket or a summons. Once that happens you’re going to have to make some fairly important decisions that may impact your life for years to come.
If you have a question that you’d like to ask, we’d be happy to answer it for you. You can submit a blog question and we’ll make sure to either include it in a future blog post or send you a direct response to it. There’s no harm in asking questions and the answer just might save you from running into trouble with the police in the future! Your question may also help other readers who have the same question. If you have already been charged by the police, you can submit an online consultation request and one of our staff will contact you directly to answer your questions as well as go through your case history and details. In situations where you already have a ticket or a summons, you will need quicker answers as you will either have a filing deadline or a pending court date that you or your legal representative must attend. Hopefully this week’s discussion on slow moving vehicles and sleigh bells will be informative and save you from running into trouble with the law.
Let’s take a look!
What Sign Requirements Does Ontario Have For Slow Moving Vehicles?
Slow moving vehicles are required under Ontario law to have slow moving signs attached to them. This requirement is detailed under Highway Traffic Act section 76(1) as follows:
Slow moving vehicle sign
76 (1) No person shall operate a slow moving vehicle on a highway unless a slow moving vehicle sign is attached, in accordance with the regulations,
(a) to the rear of the slow moving vehicle, if no trailer, implement of husbandry or other device is being towed;
(b) to the rear of the rearmost trailer, implement of husbandry or other device that is being towed by the slow moving vehicle, if one or more trailers, implements or other devices are being towed. 1994, c. 28, s. 1; 2002, c. 18, Sched. P, s. 21 (1).
There are two potential locations where a slow moving vehicle sign must be attached to such vehicles:
- To the rear of the slow moving vehicle (where no trailer, implement of husbandry, or other device is being towed), or,
- To the rear of the rearmost trailer, implement of husbandry, or other towed device
What Vehicles Are Considered “Slow Moving” In Ontario?
Slow moving vehicles are defined under Highway Traffic Act section 76(2) as follows:
Slow moving vehicles
(2) The following are slow moving vehicles:
- Farm tractors and self-propelled implements of husbandry.
- Vehicles (other than bicycles, motor assisted bicycles and disabled motor vehicles in tow) that are not capable of attaining and sustaining a speed greater than 40 kilometres per hour on level ground when operated on a highway.
- Motor vehicles towing an implement of husbandry.
- Road-building machines. 1994, c. 28, s. 1; 2009, c. 5, s. 32; 2016, c. 5, Sched. 12, s. 4.
“bicycle” includes a tricycle, a unicycle and a power-assisted bicycle but does not include a motor assisted bicycle; (“bicyclette”)
“farm tractor” means a self-propelled vehicle designed and used primarily as a farm implement for drawing ploughs, mowing-machines and other implements of husbandry and not designed or used for carrying a load; (“tracteur agricole”)
“highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof; (“voie publique”)
“motor assisted bicycle” means a bicycle,
(a) that is fitted with pedals that are operable at all times to propel the bicycle,
(b) that weighs not more than fifty-five kilograms,
(c) that has no hand or foot operated clutch or gearbox driven by the motor and transferring power to the driven wheel,
(d) that has an attached motor driven by electricity or having a piston displacement of not more than fifty cubic centimetres, and
(e) that does not have sufficient power to enable the bicycle to attain a speed greater than 50 kilometres per hour on level ground within a distance of 2 kilometres from a standing start; (“cyclomoteur”)
Slow moving vehicles include:
- Farm tractors
- Self-propelled implements of husbandry
- Vehicles (not including bicycles, motor assisted bicycles, or towed disabled vehicles) that can go no faster than 40 km/h on level ground)
- Motor vehicles towing an implement of husbandry
- Road building machines
Are There Any Legal Exemptions For Slow Moving Vehicles Needing A Sign?
Yes. If a slow moving vehicle is driving on a highway, then it needs to have an appropriate sign attached. However, if the slow moving vehicle is only crossing the roadway, then no such sigh is required under Highway Traffic Act section 76(3) as follows:
(3) The slow moving vehicle sign is not required if the slow moving vehicle is operated on a highway only to cross it directly. 1994, c. 28, s. 1; 2002, c. 18, Sched. P, s. 21 (2).
Are There Any Legal Limits To The Use Of Slow Moving Vehicle Signs?
Yes. There is an interesting section of law under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act section 76(4):
(4) No person shall place a slow moving vehicle sign on or near a fixed object where it is readily visible from a highway. 1994, c. 28, s. 1.
If you are not currently using your slow moving vehicle sign, ensure to put it somewhere safe and out of view of vehicles that may be driving down the road. If you place the sign on or near an object where it can be seen from the road, you risk getting into trouble with the police and being charged.
There is however a further provision under Highway Traffic Act section 76(5) where a depiction of a slow moving vehicle sign can be displayed near the road for informational purposes. This could include posted signs for drivers to watch out for slow moving vehicles in the area:
(5) Subsection (4) does not apply to a facsimile of a slow moving vehicle sign that is displayed for the information of highway users. 1994, c. 28, s. 1.
Can I Attach A Slow Moving Vehicle Sign To My Car Or Truck?
Only vehicles specifically assigned as a slow moving vehicle can have these signs attached to them. Any other vehicle is specifically prohibited from doing so under Highway Traffic Act section 76(6) as follows:
(6) No person shall operate on a highway a vehicle, other than a slow moving vehicle, with a slow moving vehicle sign attached to it or to a trailer, implement of husbandry or other device being towed by it. 2002, c. 18, Sched. P, s. 21 (3).
How Fast Can I Drive With A Slow Moving Vehicle Sign Attached?
If your vehicle meets the classification of being a slow moving vehicle and if you have attached a slow moving vehicle to it, the maximum speed that you can travel is limited by law. Highway Traffic Act section 76 (6.1) states that:
(6.1) No person shall operate on a highway a slow moving vehicle with a slow moving vehicle sign attached to it or to a trailer, implement of husbandry or other device being towed by it, at a speed greater than 40 kilometres per hour. 2002, c. 18, Sched. P, s. 21 (3).
Such vehicles can travel no faster than 40 km/h even if they are capable of doing so.
Does Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act Contain Everything I Need To Know About Slow Moving Vehicles?
Unfortunately not. Highway Traffic Act section 76(7) provides the government authority to make additional regulations as follows:
(7) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,
(a) prescribing the type and specifications of the slow moving vehicle sign and its location on the vehicle;
(b) providing that subsection (1) does not apply to a horse-drawn vehicle when driven by a person whose religious convictions or beliefs prohibit the display of devices such as the slow moving vehicle sign;
(c) prescribing the type and specifications of a marker or device, requiring that it be displayed, instead of the slow moving vehicle sign, on a horse-drawn vehicle when driven by a person described in clause (b), and prescribing the location of the marker or device on the vehicle;
(d) respecting any matter considered necessary or advisable to carry out the intent and purpose of this section. 1994, c. 28, s. 1.
This is where the law can get a lot more complex and require the referencing of legal regulations outside of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. When this occurs a trained and experienced paralegal can be of incredible help. They will either be aware of the specific regulations related to your case, or they will know how to find that information.
Are Sleigh Bells Still Required Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act?
Yes. This is a fun bit of legal trivia! If you are travelling on a highway in a sleigh or sled that is pulled by a horse or other animal, you must meet the following requirements under Highway Traffic Act section 77(1):
77 (1) Every person travelling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 77 (1).
What Are The Penalties For Not Using Sleigh Bells In Ontario?
The penalties assigned under Highway Traffic Act section 77(2) for not having the proper amount or placement of sleigh bells while travelling on a roadway are:
(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 77 (2).
A $5.00 court fine is certainly an incredibly small financial penalty. However, it is important to keep in mind that this fine would also be subject to a $5.00 court cost and the victim fine surcharge. This would result in a total-payable fine of $20.00.
What Can I Do If I Am Charged By The Police?
If you have been charged by the police, we can help you. We help people just like you across all of the Ontario and Quebec courts as well as some locations in the northern United States. You’re going to have questions that will need answers and you’ll also need some basic information so that you can make informed decisions. Hiring a paralegal to fight your charge at court is often times more cost effective than simply pleading guilty and paying your court fine. A conviction can result in serious consequences such as a court fine, a record of conviction, demerit points, CVOR points, insurance increases, licence suspensions or cancellations, and even imprisonment if you’ve been charged with a very serious offence.
Our team is here to help you. We offer a no-cost, no obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you as well as answer your questions. We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.