A Northern Ontario MPP is hoping to steer change to make highways safer.
Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin is introducing a bill that, if passed, would make it illegal for a vehicle to pass on the highway when there are two solid yellow lines.
Bourgouin plans to present the bill at Queen's Park on Nov. 21 and is asking for letters of support from municipalities. The letter is on the Timmins and Cochrane council agendas today (Nov. 14).
In the letter to northern municipalities, Bourgouin said that one of his constituents was nearly killed in a crash when a truck passed on the left on two solid yellow lines.
“In 2022, after asking a police officer how to prevent such accidents, I learned that the police does not currently have the legal tools to penalize this dangerous maneuver and thus avoid these accidents,” he wrote.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, vehicles can pass another vehicle going the same direction if the vehicle being passed doesn't have approaching traffic in front of or to the left of it on the road, and if the road to the left of the vehicle passing is safely free from overtaking traffic.
On roads that have at least one lane of traffic in each direction, the act prohibits driving to the left of the centre in two instances. Those are when a vehicle is approaching the crest of a hill, a corner, or tunnel where the driver's view is obstructed to create a potential hazard if another vehicle is approaching in the other direction, and when approaching within 30 metres of a level railway crossing.
In his letter, Bourgouin notes that there is no penalty for drivers passing on a double yellow line.
“In our northern communities, which are centred around both highways 11 and 17, which are main roads for us, the effects of this maneuver are known and devastating. Except to enter a private lane on the left of the road or to enter the highway' s lane, there is no reason to use this deadly maneuver. Ontario is the only province that does not penalize this behaviour, it is time to prioritize the lives of Ontarians,” Bourgouin wrote.
“I am sure that many of you are very familiar with the situation and care about the safety of citizens who use our roads. This is particularly the case with severe snowstorms approaching which will make our roads less safe.”
In Northern Ontario, there is a pilot project in the works to add 2+1 lanes to Highway 11 North.
The unique project will see a third lane added every three to five kilometres to allow room to pass. There's also a median to cut out passing except for in the designated third-lane stretches.
Two potential locations for the 2+1 lanes have been identified, with the province prioritizing the design and assessment for 14-kilometre stretch of Highway 11 from Sand Dam Road to Ellesmere Road near Norh Bay. In July, AECOM Canada was awarded the environmental assessment and design work for the project.
The other potential location is Highway 11 from Highway 64 to Jumping Caribou Lake Road.