Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Boosting Penalties for Careless and Distracted Drivers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Boosting Penalties for Careless and Distracted Drivers

Article excerpt

Careless drivers who kill could be fined $50K in Ontario

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TORONTO - Careless drivers in Ontario causing death could soon be fined up to $50,000 as the government plans to introduce tougher penalties that will also crack down on distracted driving.

Ontario's driving legislation currently has no offence for careless driving causing death, with careless driving carrying maximum penalties of six months of jail time, $2,000 in fines, plus demerit points and a licence suspension. But safety and cycling advocates have called for much stronger penalties.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced Wednesday that the Liberal government will introduce legislation this fall that would help crack down on careless and distracted driving.

The proposed legislation would create a new offence for careless driving causing death or bodily harm, Del Duca said. It would lead to a licence suspension of up to five years, fines of between $2,000 and $50,000, up to two years of jail time and six demerit points.

Last year, 483 people were killed on Ontario roads -- 96 of them pedestrians. The changes are about protecting people on Ontario's roads, particularly vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists, Del Duca said.

"Every 17 hours on average we have a fatality on our roads," he said. "That's someone's sister or dad or daughter, gone forever."

Kasia Briegmann-Samson, of Friends and Families for Safe Streets, said it's a big step in the right direction to create a separate offence for careless driving causing death.

"If you're driving and you hit a garbage can or a post or if you hit a person and kill them, the penalty is not (currently) any different," she said.

Briegmann-Samson's husband was killed five years ago while riding his bicycle to work. That driver left the scene and so was charged with a criminal offence, not one under the Highway Traffic Act, but the driver was still sentenced to just six months and served 13 weekends, she said.

"It's gut wrenching," Briegmann-Samson said. …

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