MAKE ROOM FOR MOMS
As of July 1, Ontario is implementing the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act–the MOMS Act–which includes stricter penalties for stunt driving, as well as heightened measures for commercial-truck safety, protection for cyclists and road workers and more oversight on the towing industry. Officials say that truck safety will improve with new enforcement tools for commercial drivers who are behind the wheel longer than the permitted number of hours.
The new Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act will set standards for consumer protection and roadside behaviour, and penalties for non-compliance; require tow operators and vehicle storage operators to be certified under the new act and meet the requirements.
The MOMS Act will also target those with a need for speed. When driving in an 80 km/h zone, travelling 40 km/h over that limit will catch you a stunt driving charge. Formerly, you’d need to be travelling 50 km/h over before getting hit with the fine.
The penalty for stunt driving and street racing used to be a seven-day licence suspension and seven-day vehicle impoundment. That now rises to a roadside 30-day licence suspension, and your vehicle’s in the pound for 14 days.
The MOMS Act aims to protect road workers on emergency scenes or construction sites as MTO (Ministry of Transportation) enforcement officers are now allowed to close a road if necessary, for an emergency. Automated control devices, known as automated flaggers, can be used in construction sites, so workers don’t have to stand in the road and stop traffic. The act will also introduce cameras on the sides of streetcars to catch drivers illegally passing.
HEROES WITH THE CAPE
Horns and shouts could be heard in Sydney, Nova Scotia one warm summer night in June; but it wasn’t a parade or a celebration, it was over a dozen tow truck operators–and they weren’t picking up cars.
Tow truck operators were protesting the proposed by-law they say would make them pay more to operate in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).
The operators, honking their horns in unity, say that this bylaw would include an annual fee, driver accreditation and a flat rate that could cost the consumer more. Stephen Jamael, the owner of Jamael’s Towing in Sydney says tow truck operators already pay these fees to the Nova Scotia Government.
“Doing quick math, if you have 10 tow trucks, the new cost per truck is the better part of a thousand dollars, so if you have 10 trucks that’s 10 thousand dollars before you even turn your wheel,” says Frank Campbell, a tow truck operator.
Christina Lamey, the communications officer for the municipality says the by-law is to put more consistency into the cost of towing, seizure and impounding of vehicles, particularly after traffic accidents.
Tow truck operators feel they should have been consulted before these changes were proposed. They say comparing the CBRM to the way bigger cities operate and regulate towing companies is unfair to the small companies operating on the island.
“What is going to happen is all of the small tow companies, most of them are going to end up going bankrupt over this,” says Kim Withrow, a tow truck operator.
This new bylaw was on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting but has since changed. There is no clear doubt for when it will appear before council.
911, I NEED A TOW
911 dispatchers in Montreal are about to get a lot busier. Montreal Police announced on Monday that motorists whose vehicles are blocking traffic on Montreal Island streets, due to mechanical issues or a collision, must call 911 to contact a tow truck.
The policy follows a 2017 city inspector general’s report on towing services in Montreal and is aimed at “standardizing towing operations in the agglomeration of Montreal and offering road users quality service with regulated rates,” according to a statement issued by the Montreal police department.
The new policy does not apply to motorists on provincial highways, or to private parking spots – *4141 still services those situations.