Ontario has responded to a slew of complaints by activists regarding what they have long believed is an insufficient punishment standard for careless drivers who cause fatal accidents. Now, the province is expected to unveil one Wednesday that will make Ontario one of the toughest of all provinces on careless driving legislation.
According to an exclusive report from The Globe and Mail, Ontario is amending its Highway Traffic Act so that careless drivers causing death can be fined a maximum of $50,000, receive up to two years in jail, and have their licenses suspended up to five years. Previously, the most they could be fined was $2,000, the most they could be jailed was six months, and two years was the longest they could lose their license for.
Road safety has become a pressing issue in Ontario. Pedestrians and cyclist fatalities are taking place at an alarming rate. In the past five years, more than 450 of these vulnerable road users have been killed in motor vehicle collisions in Ontario's five most populous cities (Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo) and on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Government statistics show that distracted driving is causing twice as many collisions as it did in 2000.
Pedestrian activist Maureen Coyle, who is a member of the steering committee for the advocacy group Walk Toronto, called the proposed legislation "a step in the right direction," but not one that necessarily goes far enough in eliminating dangerous drivers from the roads.
"I'd like to see people have their right to drive cars removed from them," Coyle said. "Stop seeing the right to operate a car being sacrosanct. What is [more important] is the right of people to live and move around safely."