The provincial government is introducing tough new rules and penalties for careless and distracted driving, in the hope of improving road safety and protecting road users – including cyclists and pedestrians. The province plans to introduce legislation that would include:
- A new offence for careless driving causing death or bodily harm with a maximum penalty of up to two years in jail, $50,000 fine and a five-year licence suspension. The current maximum is six months in jail and $2,000.
- Tougher penalties for distracted driving, such as using a cellphone while operating a vehicle; a first offence for driving distracted would see your licence suspended for three days. Fines which are currently in the $300-$1000 range would go up to $500-$1000. There would be higher monetary and demerit point penalties for second and third offences.
- Increased penalties for drivers who fail to yield to 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.
In addition, the province is consulting on the use of cameras on school buses that capture the offence of illegally passing a school bus, so that this evidence can be admitted into court without a witness. These measures would add to recently-announced new penalties for those who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis.
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.