Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Careless Driving Merits Tougher Penalties

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Careless Driving Merits Tougher Penalties

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Careless driving merits tougher penalties

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Sept. 20:

Erica Stark was standing on a sidewalk in Scarborough in November 2014 when a minivan jumped the curb, ran over a TTC bus stop pole, careened off a hydro box, slammed into a light standard, and then hit her. The 42-year-old mother of three died at the scene.

Two years later, the driver of the car, Elizabeth Taylor, was found guilty of careless driving under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act. She received a $1,000 fine, six months probation, and a total driving ban for one month.

Believe it or not, that penalty was unusually tough for someone convicted of careless driving. But advocates for safer streets have long maintained that it isn't nearly tough enough. They've been pushing for fines of up to $50,000 and longer driving bans.

Now, if proposals released on Wednesday by the Wynne government are passed into law, they will get their wish -- and a lot more.

Considering that last year was the deadliest for Toronto pedestrians in over a decade, with 43 people killed by drivers, the proposed changes to the current legislation can't come soon enough.

The changes would dramatically toughen current penalties to protect pedestrians, cyclists -- and other people in vehicles -- from careless drivers. The only shortcoming appears to be a lack of new money for increased enforcement.

Still, most importantly, the changes to the act would create a new provincial offence of careless driving causing death or bodily harm that could result in a licence suspension of up to five years, imprisonment of up to two years, and a fine of between $2,000 and $50,000. (This is distinct from the more serious Criminal Code offence of dangerous driving, which carries higher penalities.)

"This is about penalties that fit the action and behaviour of the accused," Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon said on Wednesday. Her husband, Greg Stobbart, was killed in 2006 by a careless driver. …

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