The Ontario Trucking Association is encouraged by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca’s announcement today calling for increased fines and sanctions to help elevate pedestrian and cyclist safety.
“Raising current fines and sanctions is a positive first step, but the OTA would like to continue working with all levels of government, other road user stakeholders and technology providers to explore multiple areas that could improve safety for vulnerable road users,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
It is expected that the Province of Ontario will double fines for failure to yield – from the current range of $15-$500 to upwards of $1000. Careless driving causing death and bodily harm will be increased from a maximum of a $2000 fine to upwards of a $50,000 fine. Licence suspensions and jail time will also increase from the current period of up to two years (suspension) and six months (jail) to upwards of a five-year licence suspension and two years in jail.
Also part of today’s announcement were tougher penalties for distracted driving, such as using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, including higher fines, more demerit points, and licence suspensions. The government is proposing increasing fines fir first offences from $500 to $1000 and as much as $2,000 and $3,000 for second and subsequent offences, which will also carry a penalty of six demit points.
In the meantime, OTA continues to seek clarification of the definition of distracted driving under the law. Furthermore, OTA continues to work with the ministry to extend the exemption that allows commercial drivers to use hand-held two-way CB radios.
“Distracted driving is something the trucking industry is already addressing. Many transportation companies have policies in place to monitor and restrict distracted driving behaviour,” said Laskowski.
This past spring, the Boards of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the OTA passed several motions to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
The OTA identified four policy areas where it believes progress can be made in protecting vulnerable road users: education, infrastructure planning, enforcement/regulatory change, and technology/equipment.
- Education: Develop a national government-industry campaign that emphasizes how to share the road with trucks, cyclists and pedestrians. OTA produced a video – Trucks ‘n Bikes: Sharing the Road – in 2015. Click here to view).
- Planning: All road user groups need to co-exist and interact. To achieve this OTA believes (i) Roadway design guidelines need to be updated (ii) Exploration/suitability of intersections to have separate signal timing/advanced warning for pedestrians/cyclists;
- Enforcement/Regulatory Change: Develop and enforce law equally on all three parties: vehicle operators, pedestrians, cyclists;
- Technology/Equipment: Determine how emerging vehicle technologies would help improve vulnerable road user safety.
“As a major road user group, the trucking industry is constantly looking at how it can work with other road user partners and technology providers to improve road safety. Protecting vulnerable road uses is a multi-stakeholder responsibility,” added Laskowski.