QUEEN'S PARK – Ontario NDP MPPs Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) and Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) are urging the Ford government to pass their bill, the Moving Ontario Safely Act, to prevent road accidents involving drivers who injure or kill a pedestrian, road worker or cyclist.
The bill, co-sponsored by MPPs Jessica Bell (University—Rosedale) and Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park), will bring in tougher penalties for drivers who, while breaking the law, injure or kill a pedestrian, road worker or cyclist.
Harden and Begum held a press conference Wednesday to address the importance of tougher penalties for careless drivers. They were joined by advocates from Friends and Families for Safe Streets and the Amputee Coalition of Ontario.
"Every year, thousands of accidents happen involving drivers who injure or kill a pedestrian, cyclist or road worker. Every one of these incidents is a tragedy; pedestrians, road workers and cyclists deserve better protection," Harden said.
"Members of my community have died because of our lack of meaningful action in Ontario to ensure safe streets for all," Begum said. "Scarborough faces some of the highest road safety incidents in all of the GTA – this is why, with the Moving Ontarians Safely Act, we will enshrine proper education and justice measures into the law to prevent more lives from being impacted by unsafe roads.
The Moving Ontario Safely Act is a critical step to making roads safer and addressing the need for serious consequences, and I look forward to taking it to community consultations and seeing it passed in the legislature.”
Currently, drivers who kill or seriously injure pedestrians due to careless driving are charged under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act and typically walk away with small fines.
The bill proposes tougher penalties including license suspension and requirements that the driver hear victim impact statements, take a driver re-education course and complete community service with a road safety group.
"This bill will ensure that drivers are held accountable for their actions, and that they better understand the devastating consequences that speeding, texting or other reckless driving can have on people's lives,” Harden said.
MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park):
"Road violence cannot continue to be overlooked. By supporting the Moving Ontarians Safely Act, the Ford Conservatives can send a message that road safety for all Ontarians is a priority."
MPP Jessica Bell (University—Rosedale):
"Every serious injury or death that occurs on our roads is a tragedy. Friends and families of victims want to see meaningful consequences that ensure responsibility and accountability for drivers who share the road with pedestrians."
Jess Spieker, Friends and Families for Safe Streets:
"The lack of justice is maddening, and infinitely worse for families when a loved one is violently and preventably killed. If this law were in place, drivers would face justice, the public would be better protected, and drivers would be deterred from reckless driving. Every at-fault driver’s license would be suspended until they appear in traffic court to face their devastated victims, until they complete community service, and until they complete remedial driver re-training. Why should any at-fault reckless driver who just demonstrated themselves to be a menace on the road be getting behind the wheel again, until they can demonstrate to society they can drive safely? Surely, that is not too much to ask."
Meredith Wilkinson, Amputee Coalition of Ontario:
“Vulnerable road users understand the consequences of collisions – we literally feel them, with our broken bones, our brain injuries, our lost limbs, and our permanent disabilities. We live with the consequences for the rest of our lives. This bill represents an opportunity for convicted drivers to understand the consequences of injuring or killing a vulnerable road user.”
Pat Brown, Vulnerable Road Users Coalition:
“The unfortunate reality is that the number of pedestrians and cyclists being killed is not going down. Twenty vulnerable road users will be brought into our emergency department today after being struck down by a driver. Until we have the technology and the infrastructure to stop this, let’s have laws that deter and actually make bad drivers become good drivers.”