Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) was first introduced in 1923 to deal with an increasing number of accidents as automobiles became more common. With almost a century of time having passed, the HTA has seen multiple amendments to deal with the evolution of modern society and technology. This evolution has seen some very specific laws included to deal with very unique situations as well as resulted in some outdated laws lingering on the books that are rarely (if ever) used.
Let’s take a look!
RIDE TWO ON A BICYCLE
“(2) No person riding or operating a bicycle designed for carrying one person only shall carry any other person thereon. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 178 (2); 2015, c. 14, s. 52 (2).”
So, unless your bicycle is specifically designed to carry more than one person, you may want to think twice before taking a passenger on your handlebars or on the seat behind you. Doing so could result in a total-payable fine of $110.00. That makes for an expensive bicycle ride!
Thinking that you might not have to worry about this if you’re driving a motor-assisted bicycle? HTA section 178(3) has been added to cover just this exact same situation:
“(3) No person driving a motor assisted bicycle shall carry any other person thereon. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 178 (3).”
The previous section covering regular bicycles prohibits any passengers unless the bicycle is specifically designed to carry them. This section covering motor assisted bicycles carries no such provision. No passengers, period.
PERSONS CLINGING TO VEHICLES
Undoubtedly we’ve all run across a movie scene where the hero grabs onto the back of a car or bus to speed away on their bicycle, skateboard, or hoverboard. Perhaps you thought about doing this when you were a youngster…or maybe you even did it! Setting aside the obvious safety issues inherent in this dangerous behaviour, HTA s.178(4) is another good reason to travel under your own power alone:
“(4) No person shall attach himself or herself to the outside of a vehicle or street car on a roadway for the purpose of being drawn along the highway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 178 (4); 2015, c. 14, s. 52 (3).”
Doing so will result in a total-payable fine of $50.00. That’s a lot of bus rides that could simply have been purchased.
DUTIES OF PEDESTRIANS WHEN WALKING ALONG A HIGHWAY
Thinking that the Highway Traffic Act applies only to bicycles and motorized vehicles? Think again! Pedestrians are also regulated in their use of Ontario’s roadways. HTA section 179 is one such example:
“179 (1) Where sidewalks are not provided on a highway, a pedestrian walking along the highway shall walk on the left side thereof facing oncoming traffic and, when walking along the roadway, shall walk as close to the left edge thereof as possible. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 179 (1).”
If you are walking along a roadway that doesn’t have a sidewalk, you are required to walk as closely as possible to the left side of the road (facing oncoming traffic). Failing to do so can result in a $50 total-payable fine! There is however one legal caveat under HTA s.179(2) that does not require people walking a bicycle to cross the roadway to the left side if doing so would be unsafe:
“(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a pedestrian walking a bicycle in circumstances where crossing to the left side of the highway would be unsafe. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 179 (2).”
Oddly, the first section dealing with regular pedestrians does not include the ‘if doing so would be safe’ clause.
SOLICITING RIDES PROHIBITED
Pedestrians are also prohibited from soliciting a ride from anything other than a “public passenger conveyance” under HTA s.177(1):
“177 (1) No person, while on the roadway, shall solicit a ride from the driver of a motor vehicle other than a public passenger conveyance. 1999, c. 8, s. 7 (1).”
We’ve all seen someone at the side of the road with a sign or their thumb out in the air to hitchhike. Not only could it be incredibly dangerous to get into a stranger’s vehicle, but doing so could result in a $65.00 total-payable fine if you’re charged by the police. That’s certainly more expensive than your average bus or taxi ride!
LITTERING HIGHWAY PROHIBITED
It’s not nice to litter. No one wants to live in a world with garbage and refuse strewn about. The Highway Traffic Act weighs in on this issue under section 180:
“180 Every person who throws or deposits or causes to be deposited any glass, nails, tacks or scraps of metal or any rubbish, refuse, waste or litter upon, along or adjacent to a highway, except in receptacles provided for the purpose, is guilty of the offence of littering the highway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 180.”
This could be throwing your food wrapper out the window or perhaps a cigarette butt. Aside from polluting the environment, it could also land you a total-payable fine of $110.00 if you are spotted by the police. One of the less common scenarios is a driver angry at having been stopped and charged by the police. Upset that you got a ticket? That’s ok, fight it at court! Just don’t throw your ticket out the window, or the officer may issue you another charge for having littered the highway!
DEPOSIT OF SNOW ON THE HIGHWAY
Canada and snow. Snow and Canada. They go hand-in-hand come the wintertime. No one would be surprised that the Highway Traffic Act would cover situations like drivers driving safely on snowy roads. Sliding on a snowy road and causing a collision could readily result in a Careless Driving offence being issued. But what about shoveling the snow on your driveway or sidewalk? HTA s.181 weighs in on this issue:
“181 No person shall deposit snow or ice on a roadway without permission in writing so to do from the Ministry or the road authority responsible for the maintenance of the road. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 181.”
Where do you put your snow? Certainly in high-density cities like Toronto, home or business owners with little-to-no yard space may be tempted to just shovel the snow onto the roadway. However, you might want to think twice about doing so. If charged by the police, you would be looking at a $110.00 total-payable fine!
WHAT TO DO?
While some of these charges are obscure and not very common, they can still result in a record of conviction against your driver’s licence. Protecting your driving history and insurance costs is an important consideration. Any time that you are charged by the police, it is generally in your self-interest to seek out the basic information you will need to make an informed choice in protecting yourself. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services is here to help you and offers a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation. Our friendly staff 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.
Watch for our future blog post on even more uncommon Highway Traffic Act offences!