Ontario NDP retable bill to protect vulnerable road users

Traffic accidents involving vulnerable road users continue to plague public safety in Ontario, as the province’s personal injury lawyers well know. With both serious injuries and fatalities approaching record highs, advocates hope the third retabling of an NDP private member’s bill will lead to change.

If approved, the bill will increase penalties against drivers who cause injury or death to cyclists and pedestrians and make it easier for judges to order licence suspensions, driver re-education, and community service related to road safety, the CBC reports.

None of these proposals are especially radical; the Coalition for Vulnerable Road User Laws has been calling for similar measures for several years, and an online petition in support of the bill has attracted more than 15,000 signatures.

“Tougher penalties on drivers will help keep all road users safe,” said NDP transit critic Jessica Bell at a November news conference.

Toronto personal injury lawyers can tell you that the provincial capital is ground zero for traffic injuries and fatalities in Ontario. The city has recorded more than 60 road deaths in 2018, including dozens of pedestrians. In the last five years, close to 200 pedestrians have been killed in altercations with drivers.

Though city council has committed roughly $100-million to its Vision Zero road safety strategy, advocates are calling for more immediate change.

“It’s no longer acceptable when someone breaks the law, seriously injuries someone, kills them – whether they’re walking or riding a bike – and they walk away with a small fine,” road safety advocate Patrick Brown told the CBC.

“This would be a huge asset, another major tool in our toolbox,” added Councillor Jaye Robinson, the outgoing chair of the city’s public works and infrastructure committee.

Despite support from concerned parties, including many personal injury lawyers, the future of the private member’s bill remains in doubt. It was first tabled in December 2017 but died when the provincial legislature was prorogued in March. Its second tabling, in April 2018, was nixed by the recent election. Now, supporters will have to convince the new PC government led by Premier Doug Ford, a former Toronto city councillor who was an active participant in the so-called ‘War on the Car’ debate, that stiffer penalties can reduce traffic violence.

“This Bill was introduced this afternoon and we are still in the process of reviewing it,” said a spokesperson for the Minister of Transportation in a November statement to the CBC. “Our Government is for the people and we will make sure that any Bills we support are aligned with that principle.”

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to learn how our team of experienced personal injury lawyers can help.

Image credit: The City of Toronto/Wikimedia Commons

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