All Parties Come Together to Curb Distracted Driving

QUEEN’S PARK – Today, Nepean resident Rick Levesque joined PC MPPs Lisa MacLeod and Jeff Yurek and Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon at Queen’s Park to highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the need for a greater deterrence strategy.

After witnessing a collision in which one of the drivers was talking on their mobile phone, Mr. Levesque took it upon himself to raise awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving.  Through grassroots efforts, Mr. Levesque started a petition that calls on the government to institute greater penalties for using hand-held devices while behind the wheel.

With an increased reliance on smartphones, distracted driving has become a major road safety concern.  Studies show that using a handheld device while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 23 times.  Recently, distracted driving has surpassed impaired driving as the number one road safety concern of Canadians.

Last week, debate took place on Mr. Balkissoon’s private members bill that would increase fines for using a hand-held device while driving and also require three demerit points be assessed for each offence.  The bill – named after Scarborough Rouge-River resident Manoranjana Kanagasabapathy who was killed last August by a distracted driver – passed second reading with unanimous support.

MacLeod, Balkissoon, and Yurek all affirmed their commitment to ensuring the expeditious passage of Bill 116 through the committee process and third reading.  Yurek also took the opportunity to acknowledge the City of London and the City of St. Thomas for passing council resolutions supporting enhanced penalties for distracted driving offences.

MPP Yurek’s speech in support of Bill 116 during last week’s debate can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H69rEXsO-U8&feature=youtu.be.

Quotes:

“Keeping our roads safe is a top priority.  Distracted driving increases the chances of getting into an accident 23 times.  It’s important for us to be here today with these various stakeholders to raise awareness of the issue and begin to take steps to better deter the practice of distracted driving.” – Jeff Yurek, MPP Elgin-Middlesex-London

“Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents and is becoming as dangerous as impaired driving. Demerit points for distracted driving will be a significant deterrent.” – Lisa MacLeod, MPP Nepean-Carleton

“Distracted driving is a growing concern.  We must bring awareness to the devastation that can result from using a hand-held device while driving.  In a matter of seconds, Manoranjana Kanagasabapathy tragically lost her life leaving behind a loving, close-knit family.  In an effort to make our roads safer, my private member’s bill proposes a higher fine and 3 demerit points.  I am happy that the bill received unanimous support and look forward to working with MPP MacLeod and MPP Yurek to pass Bill 116.” – Bas Balkissoon, MPP Scarborough-Rouge River

“Most people would never dream of getting behind the wheel while drunk. And yet, those same folks can often persuade themselves that sending a quick text message is no big deal. In fact, texting while driving may be equally, if not more risky, than impaired driving.” – Ralph Palumbo, VP Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada

“CAA and its members support stronger laws designed to help curb distracted driving. A recent survey found over 80% of our members are in favour of the introduction of demerit points, and CAA believes this will help alleviate a growing problem on our roads. The support of all three political parties highlights the importance of Bill 116, and CAA continues to support initiatives that will make Ontario’s roads safer for all road users.” – Elliott Silverstein, Manager, Government Relations – CAA South Central Ontario

“The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association applauds MPPs Bas Balkissoon and Lisa MacLeod on their fight for tougher distracted driving laws and safer roads. We hope stiffer penalties will create a cultural change that makes distracted driving frowned upon, much like seatbelt and drunk driving laws have accomplished.” – Todd Bourgon, Executive Director, Trillium Automobile Dealers Association

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 Media Contact: William Ross | P: 416-325-3965 | E: william.ross@pc.ola.org