New rules and penalties implemented by the Ontario government aim to crack down on careless and distracted driving in hopes of improving safety for some of the most at-risk road users like pedestrians and cyclists.
“Ontario is taking action to reduce the number of people killed by impaired, distracted and dangerous drivers. These measures will help keep some of our most vulnerable road users safe and help us drive home the message that dangerous, impaired and distracted driving is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated, “ Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation.
The new legislation, expected to be introduced this fall, is directly aimed at reducing accidents and injuries resulting from impaired, distracted driving and dangerous drivers including:
- A new offence for careless driving causing death or bodily harm with penalties that include fines, license suspension and imprisonment
- Tougher penalties for distracted driving, such as using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, including higher fines, more demerit points, and license suspensions
- Increased penalties for drivers who fail to yield for pedestrians and escalating fines for drivers who are convicted of multiple pedestrian-related offences within a five-year window
- Expanding the use of rear flashing blue lights for enforcement and emergency vehicles.
To combat the incidence of drivers illegally passing school buses, the province is looking into the use of cameras on buses to capture offending drivers. Camera evidence would be admitted to court without the need for a physical witness.
These new laws and measures would come in addition to measures introduced in September of this year. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation provided the following statistics in conjunction with the announcement.
- On average, one person is killed on Ontario’s roads every 17 hours. In 2014, pedestrians and cyclists made up approximately 25 per cent of Ontario’s road fatalities.
- While drunk driving remains in the top-five killers on Ontario’s roads, the province’s most recent roadside survey found that drivers who tested positive for drugs were more than twice the number who tested positive for alcohol.
- The proposed legislation builds on existing measures Ontario has introduced to improve road safety including tougher impaired, distracted and street racing laws.
- In May Ontario passed legislation to protect the most vulnerable such as pedestrians and cyclists, by giving municipalities more tools to address speeding. These tools include the ability to set reduced default speed limits and use automated speed-enforcement systems on roads with speed limits below 80 km/h that are designated as community safety zones or in school zones.
- In June 2015, Ontario passed legislation to toughen penalties for offences such as distracted driving.
- The Ministry of Transportation hosted a road safety symposium in June with municipalities and many road safety partners to discuss a broad range of road safety concerns that helped shape the government’s proposed actions to help to save lives on Ontario’s roads.
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