Bill Kelly – Radio Host 900 CHML
Finally, the Ontario government is going to lower the boom on distracted drivers.
The problem has reached epidemic proportions; in fact, distracted driving is far and away the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and fatalities.
I’ve always maintained that the current penalties for distracted driving hardly amounted to a slap on the wrist for someone who chooses to ignore the law and put lives in danger, but that’s about to change.
Under the new law, a motorist convicted of a proposed new offence of careless driving causing death or bodily harm, faces a fine of $2,000 to $50,000, imprisonment of up to two years, a licence suspension of up to five years and a loss of six demerit points.
On top of that, those caught using a hand-held cellphone will be hit with a fine ranging from $500 to $3,000, depending on whether it’s a first or second or third offense, and yes, police tell me that there are plenty of repeat offenders.
Of course, some people will complain that the new penalties are too severe, but tell that to the families of victims who have been killed or severely injured by distracted drivers.
It’s all about making our roads safer.
Besides, if you don’t want to pay the fine, don’t do the crime.
Distracted driving causes more crashes in Ontario than intoxication, speeding: OPP
Police said that so far in 2017, 4,700 crashes were due to speeding, and 1,158 were due to inebriated drivers.
According to police, distracted drivers, on the other hand, were to blame for 6,390 collisions.
And distracted driving appears to be on the rise. Police say that as of Aug. 28, 2017, 47 people had died because of distracted driving, which is a 16 per cent increase from 39 deaths by the same date in 2016.
“Public complacency about inattentive driving can be just as dangerous as the behaviour itself,” said OPP Commissioner Vince Hawks. “Until drivers, passengers, and the general public take a firm stand against this road safety issue, these tragedies are expected to continue in large numbers on our roads.”
Police say that in the eight years since distracted driving laws took effect in Ontario, 2012 was the only year that more deaths on the road were caused by drunk driving than distracted driving.