A bicycle is a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). This means that a cyclist has the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users. Cyclists charged for disobeying traffic laws will be subject to a minimum set fine and a Victim Surcharge fine of $20.00 for most offences. In addition, in Ontario, a minor is also required to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on any public road. The Ontario helmet law came into effect October 1, 1995. Although originally intended to apply to all ages, it was amended by Regulation before enactment to exempt adults (18 years of age and over). The law was clearly created to target and protect children from head injuries. Indeed, about three-quarters of all cycling fatalities involve head injuries.
Has the helmet law been effective?
Statistics following the helmet law continue to show that the percentage of child cyclists admitted to hospital with head injuries has decreased. These statistics suggest that helmets are increasing safety and are effective in preventing head injuries. Again, although adults are not required by law to wear a helmet when cycling, wearing a helmet is strongly encouraged for the cyclist’s own safety.
What is the fine for not wearing a helmet?
The fine is $60. With court costs of $5 and the victim fine surcharge of $10, the total is $75 for a plea of guilty.
How do I know which helmet to buy?
Consumers should look for a helmet that fits comfortably and meets safety standards. Check the inside of the helmet for stickers from one or more of the following organizations:
Canadian Standard Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990
More information on approved helmets can be found by consulting the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and/or viewing their website.
As always, though this article intends to give you a basic overview of the law, it is never a substitute for consulting your lawyer. If you or someone you know was injured while cycling, you are advised to discuss your legal options with a personal injury lawyer.
Nigel Gilby is a Partner at Lerners LLP. He has been recognized by LEXPERT and the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in Civil Litigation. Nigel has been selected by his peers to appear in the “Best Lawyers in Canada” publication since its inception. Nigel can be contacted at 519-672-4510 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher Dawson is an Associate lawyer at Lerners LLP. Christopher can be contacted at 519-672-4510 or by email at email@example.com.