Bring back taxi and rideshare safety training in Toronto
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On March 21 2018, our little brother Nick was killed while riding in an Uber. He was traveling with his girlfriend Monika from his Parkdale apartment to Pearson Airport to go on their first vacation together.
The driver of the Uber had just moved to Toronto from Ottawa and did not seem familiar with the city. He got on the Gardiner going east instead of west, eventually exiting at Spadina. He did not seem confident driving on the highway, even suggesting an alternative route along Dundas Street West. With a flight to catch and already losing time, they instructed him to get back on the Gardiner.
Just before Royal York, the driver’s phone fell out of its cradle. He pulled to the side of the highway to remount it and then reentered the highway without speeding up or properly checking his mirror. They were rear-ended by a BMW. Nick, who was wearing a seatbelt and sitting behind the driver, took most of the impact, breaking his neck. Thankfully, Monika suffered only minor injuries and the driver was uninjured.
CPR was performed on scene and Nick’s heartbeat was restored, though he lacked most vital signs. What followed was two hellish days in the ICU while our family waited to see if there would be any sign of recovery, before we ultimately made the decision to remove him from life support and honour his wishes of becoming an organ donor. The pain, anguish and trauma since that day has not subsided, and only been aggravated by the massive injustice that has become apparent in the absence of our brother, son, uncle, cousin, friend and partner.
Lax safety rules
In May 2016, Toronto City Council updated their safety rules to legalize ridesharing. Instead of raising the bar for Uber, they lowered the bar for all companies on the road by abolishing the 17 day training course necessary to get a taxi permit. Currently, all you need to get a permit as a taxi or rideshare driver is a G license, fewer than 9 demerit points and no major convictions.
We believe Nick’s death is a direct result of city council’s decision. We don’t think his driver would have passed even the most basic of safety screenings. While the vast majority of rideshare drivers are safe and conscientious, the rules as they are allow unsafe and untrained drivers to pick up members of the public, with the misleading legitimacy of a giant company behind them. The current safety testing is being done by the public, through the star rating system. We believe this is totally unacceptable.
In an age of increasingly common ridesharing, a 17 day safety course is no longer practical. But modernizing safety rules should not mean completely throwing them away.
We are not seeking revenge against Uber, or unnecessarily stringent regulations that will take away the convenience of ridesharing and make life harder for the low income people who rely on it to make a living. We are seeking to bring back the balance between convenience and public safety, and to prevent another family from losing someone they love as a result of City Council’s failure to protect Torontonians.
What we want
- A modernized safety testing program for rideshare and taxi drivers in the city of Toronto.
How you can help
- Sign this petition.
- Stay tuned for email updates as the city election takes place.
- Tweet or email your city council and mayoral candidates and ask if they support improving rideshare and taxi safety, especially if they originally voted to scrap safety training. See list below.
- Ask your candidates in person about their position on rideshare safety.
- Have you had an unsafe experience in an Uber, Lyft or taxi since the introduction of the new rules? We want to hear your story. Share it in the petition comments.
How other jurisdictions regulate ridesharing (sources)
Province of Quebec: 35 hours of training.
Alberta: Special Class 4 driver’s license. Written test, medical exam and road test.
NYC: TLC license, same a a taxi driver. Defensive driving course and written exam.
Chicago: TNP permit, same as a taxi driver. Approx 2 week safety course.
Seattle: Online defensive driving course.
Councillors who voted for scrapping safety rules in 2016:
- John Tory
- Paul Ainslie
- Ana Bailão
- Jon Burnside
- John Campbell
- Christin Carmichael Greb
- Raymond Cho
- Josh Colle
- Gary Crawford
- Vincent Crisanti
- Glenn De Baeremaeker
- Justin J. Di Ciano
- Frank Di Giorgio
- Michelle Holland
- Stephen Holyday
- Jim Karygiannis
- Norman Kelly
- Chin Lee
- Giorgio Mammoliti
- Josh Matlow
- Mary-Margaret McMahon
- Frances Nunziata
- Cesar Palacio
- James Pasternak
- Jaye Robinson
- David Shiner
- Michael Thompson
Councillors who voted against scrapping safety rules:
- Maria Augimeri
- Shelley Carroll
- Joe Cressy
- Janet Davis
- Sarah Doucette
- John Filion
- Paula Fletcher
- Mary Fragedakis
- Mike Layton
- Pam McConnell
- Joe Mihevc
- Denzil Minnan-Wong
- Gord Perks
- Anthony Perruzza
- Kristyn Wong-Tam
Thank you ❤️
Nicholas lived his life to the fullest and cared deeply and openly for everyone he met. He truly improved the lives of countless people and did not in any way deserve to die so violently in such a ridiculously preventable way. Please be a voice for Nick and for your friends and family who use rideshare companies. We need this to change.
- Patrick and Rachel Cameron
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