Increased penalties for distracted and careless driving

The Ontario Government recently announced an intention to crack down on distracted and careless drivers by increasing the penalties for these kinds of offences.  Currently victims of accidents caused by distracted or careless drivers frequently feel that the at fault driver is let off easy with the payment of a small fine, while they are left to live with the consequences of that carelessness / inattention sometimes for the rest of their lives.

A recent Toronto Star Article reported the government as saying that one person is killed every 17 hours on Ontario's roads.  Clearly this is an unacceptable figure.  Where injury and death can be avoided, every measure should be taken to do so.  The government's plan appears to be to increase punishments in the hope of deterring this kind of behavior, including: 

  • Creating a new offience of careless driving causing dath or bodily harm punishable with license suspension up to 5 years, fines of $2,000 - $50,000, jail terms up to 2 years and 6 demerit points;
  • increasing distracted driving punishments from $1,000 maximum fine to $2,000 maximum fine, and up to $3,000 fine for repeat offences and 6 demerit points. Novice drivers (G! and G2) could have their licenses cancelled for 3 or more distracted driving convictions;
  • punishemnt for failing to yeild to a pedestrian would also be increased from $500 maximum fine to $1,000 maxumun fine.

Thse increased consequences for drivers who break the rules in this way are a good first step toward reducing preventable injuries and deaths on our roads.  In order to bring about real lasting change and see the number of injuries and deaths reduce dramatically, we need to also see a shift in the attitude of the community as a whole to this behavior.  We need to stop expecting to hear back from people we know are driving.  We need to stop thinking that there is no harm in sending a very short text while stopped at a light, or in traffic. We need to start thinking about the very real consequences of a moment's inattention: serious injury and death and the devastating impact on people and families.  No one would reach for their phone in the car if they thought it could result in serious injury or death to another.  The fact is, that is exactly what this behavior can and does lead to, and we must not be lulled into a false sense of invincability because the car doesn't crash the first time we send a text when we shouldn't. We need to not be tempted to multitask while driving. We need to remember that we can only fully focus on one thing, and when we are behind the wheel, that needs to be driving. 

By Colleen Burn of Burn Tucker Lachaîne Personal Injury Lawyers on January 31, 2018
Tags: Car Accidents