Ontario government proposes fines for overtaking snowplows on highways

Highway Traffic Act Photo by Shutterstock/Benoit Daoust

Passing a slow-moving snowplow may cost you, if the Ontario government passes its newest bill.

On April 3, the provincial government introduced its Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act 2023. The bill includes 42 initiatives that, if passed, are intended to improve public services, grow businesses, and save people time.

One of the proposed initiatives is an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act. The amendment would make it an offence to overtake working snowplows in a diagonal formation on a multi-lane highway with a posted speed limit of 80 km/h or higher. The fine for passing would be between $150 and $1,000.

“The proposed amendments are intended to reduce unsafe passing maneuvers and collisions occurring by motorists overtaking snowplows performing winter maintenance activities on these roadways. Fewer collisions with snowplows will result in improved safety for snowplow operators and the travelling public, fewer snowplows being placed out of service, and less impact on snow clearing activities on these highways,” the province said in a statement.

Drivers would only be allowed to pass the snowplow if a full lane was available to complete the maneuver. This means that if plows are working in each lane of the highway, you can’t maneuver into an oncoming lane to get around them. In fact, the government says that passing a working snowplow even if a lane is available can be dangerous.

Visibility around the snowplow is often reduced due to blowing snow and the snow ridge created by the plow. And while most plows discharge snow to the right, there are some vehicles that discharge to the left, blocking passing lanes. Plus, it’s likely the road ahead hasn’t been cleared.

Instead, it’s recommended that you wait until plows have cleared your route before hitting the road. But if you do get stuck behind one, stay approximately 10 car lengths back and be patient.  The plow may pull over and let you pass.

The provincial government is asking the public to weigh in on the snow plow amendment before the new act is voted on. You can leave a comment here until May 18.

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