Raise penalties in Ontario for driving deaths
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I am a cyclist, a pedestrian and a driver, and understand the frustrations felt by each type of road user. Say what you will about the (dis)regard of cyclists and pedestrians for traffic laws, but there is no denying they are completely vulnerable to a driver's behaviour. It is our governments' (and our society's) role to protect our most vulnerable. The Government of Ontario is not presently doing so.
I have read articles about drivers in Ontario receiving fines of $500 with no prison time for vehicular manslaughter or "careless driving" resulting in death over and over again. Just this summer, two children riding bikes were struck and killed by cars. Meanwhile, a man was fined $2,000 for riding a lawnmower drunk. There is an obvious disconnect here, and attitudes must be changed, especially as our habits and lifestyles change.
I have contacted my local MPP (Han Dong) about my concerns over the past few months but I have not yet heard back. I figured I would start a petition to put more pressure on our government to take action.
- In Toronto, there are approximately 9.5 vehicular collisions involving a pedestrian or cyclist per day. Toronto Star
- Between 2008 and 2012, over 10,000 pedestrians and 5,000 cyclists were injured or killed by a vehicle in Toronto. Toronto Public Health
- 67% of pedestrians struck had the right of way. Toronto Public Health
- 2016 was the deadliest year for pedestrians in a decade. Toronto Star
- The most typical fine set for accidental deaths is careless driving. Currently, the fine for careless driving is no less than $400 and no more than $2,000, with a maximum prison sentence of 6 months. Highway Traffic Act
- Over 1/3rd of collisions with pedestrians and cyclists were due to a driver's traffic infraction, according to a study by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. Pedestrian Deaths and Cyclist Deaths
- Relatives of traffic death victims are rightfully pushing for more rigid penalties, which has so far seen no real response from the Province. Toronto Star and Toronto Star and Global News
Everyone is a pedestrian - and every day, more and more people in Ontario hop on a bike either for fun or for transportation - and we are not doing nearly enough to encourage drivers to treat vulnerable users with more care.
I believe that:
- Pedestrians and cyclists must be, through legislation, defined as vulnerable users of the road. Vulnerable Road Users laws exist in the Netherlands, New York, Washington and Oregon. Presently, bicycles are still defined as vehicles in the Highway Traffic Act.
- Maximum and minimum fines associated with the death or injury of pedestrians and cyclists should be raised, including the permanent loss of a driver's license.
- A widespread education programme (including updates to driver's ed) should be launched, aimed at all road users.
- The 1-metre passing law should actually be enforced.
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