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MPP Eleanor McMahon Pushes to Increase Penalties for Careless Drivers

release by the Office of MPP Eleanor McMahon

June 10, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – MPP Eleanor McMahon is proposing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, through her Private Members’ Bill, tabled June 7, 2016. Bill 213, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Careless Driving) calls for increased sanctions around careless driving including enhanced penalties for careless driving causing death or bodily harm.

MPP Eleanor McMahon  ©  Sydney Grieve
Bill 213 proposes enhanced penalties including increased fines, license suspension and imprisonment terms, with additional sentencing options including completion of a road safety course. The Bill also proposes to extend the limitation period from six months to two years – giving police officers more time to gather evidence, and conduct their investigation, before a legal proceeding.

“This bill aims to encourage individuals to make good choices behind the wheel and discourage careless driving behaviours, so that preventable injuries and deaths are avoided. Driving is not a right. It is a privilege that comes with tremendous responsibility. I believe the changes proposed in this Bill will help protect all road users, and make Ontario a safer place to live, work and play,” commented Eleanor McMahon, MPP for Burlington

Careless driving is one of the most serious offences under the current Highway Traffic Act. Whether or not a driver’s actions result in the injury or death of another person is, however, not considered when determining a penalty. This Bill aims to fill the gap between less and more severe offences, providing additional charging options to prosecutors, by creating a separate offence of “Careless Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm.”

“Carelessness is often the root cause of injuries and fatalities in vehicle-related collisions and the response accordingly is a charge of Careless Driving under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). These types of collisions are entirely preventable. Amending the HTA by adding specificity through Careless Driving Cause Death or Bodily Harm will give Ontario’s police officers the tools they need to narrow the gap between careless driving and the criminal charge of dangerous driving. In addition, Bill 213 would help to deter bad behaviour behind the wheel,” said Bruce Chapman, President, Police Association of Ontario.

In 2015, 66 per cent of those killed in traffic fatalities in the City of Toronto were pedestrians or cyclists. By increasing penalties, the proposed amendments are designed to encourage safer driving and deter careless driving, so that preventable injuries and deaths are avoided. Bill 213 would send a strong message about the importance of sharing the road safely with cyclists and pedestrians and driving with due care and attention, and provide victims of collisions and their families with a level of comfort and that the charge of the “Cause Death or Bodily Harm” will ensure greater access to justice.

“All road users have a duty to share the road. Bill 213 will serve to ensure that roads are safer for everyone who use them, but when motorists drive carelessly and hit a cyclist or a pedestrian the outcome is almost always serious. Increasing penalties recognizes the gravity of causing death or bodily harm to any road user. It will also enhance access to justice for vulnerable road users and their families, ” added Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director, The Share the Road Cycling Coalition.

Quick Facts
– By the year 2020, it is estimated that road traffic injuries will become the third greatest contributor to the global burden of disease and injury.
– Manitoba is the only other jurisdiction in Canada with increased sanctions for Careless Driving Causing Death. The penalties proposed in Bill 213 are more severe that Manitoba’s sanctions and would apply to Careless Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm.
– This is the second time MPP McMahon has sought to amend the Highway Traffic Act. Through her work with the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, Greg’s Law, was passed in 2009 – enhancing penalties for repeat offenders and drivers operating under a suspended license. MPP McMahon also contributed to development of the Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act (Making Ontario’s Roads Safer), which included a one-metre safe passing law, became law in 2015.

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