On Tuesday, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca proposed a revised version of a bill to address Ontarios issue of distracted driving and other key problems that the province is attempting to limit.
The bills supporters believe that increasing the fines associated with drugged driving, dooring cyclists, and cell phone use are an appropriate response to the issue. Brian Patterson of the Ontario Safety League said that the legislation sends a clear message to drivers that there will be no tolerance for these dangerous behaviors.
The penalty for using a cellphone or smartphone while driving starts at $300 and maxes out at $1,000, with three demerit points for offenders; this is a considerable increase from the previous fine of $60-500 for a similar infraction.
In addition, the legislation also bans painting any vehicle the same shade of yellow that is used by school buses, and requires that motorists wait at crosswalks until pedestrians have completely exited the roadway before proceeding.
The issue of drivers dooring passing cyclists is also addressed in the bill, punishable by a fine of $300-1,000 and three demerit points. Motorists would also be required to stay one metre away from cyclists where space and roadways allow.
Del Duca notes that the concern over drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is serious, with over 45% of driver deaths attributed to drugged driving in 2011. He said that the ministry is working very closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to implement roadside technology to test for drug impairment that would be a similar tool to a breathalyzer, which measures blood alcohol levels.
It is yet to be seen whether this legislation will pass, but the reception overall has been positive, even from the political opposition. While Ontarios roads still rank among the safest in North America, more needs to be done to curb the rate of distracted driving, which has surpassed impaired driving and speeding as the leading cause of death in the province.
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