We live in the age of multitasking, which without careful consideration, easily becomes the age of distraction. And with distraction, comes irresponsibility, in nearly any circumstance. However, the stakes for irresponsibility are heightened when it takes place with the operation of a motor vehicle. When drivers choose to go behind the wheel impaired, or with the intention of using their mobile devices, it is known fact that not only are they endangering their own safety, but also the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers on the road.
Dangerous driving is not a problem that is going to go away or be minimized without persistent deterring methods.
Across North America, there is no set standard for penalizing dangerous drivers, as typically the issue is considered to be a state or provincial concern. This in itself is something that could be discussed on a larger platform. Maybe it is time for the issue to become a federal concern, given the severity of the issue on an international scale. Regardless, without a set standard, it does make following the rules harder, and sends mixed messages about the gravity of dangerous driving.
In the American state of Mississippi, it is legal to drink alcohol while driving or operating a motor vehicle. This would seem incredibly absurd in so many other places in the States, and the world. When other states have much stricter laws in place, looser laws become questionable, particularly when something like distracted or impaired driving is a matter of life and death.
What Ontario is Doing Right
The Ontario government in Canada has enforced even stricter careless driving laws for 2019. It is no question why either, following tragedies such as the death of three children and their grandfather, after Marco Muzzo drove impaired in 2015, shaking the province, and the rest of the country. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the statistics for dangerous driving in Canada would show that, “Every day, on average, up to 4 Canadians are killed in alcohol and/or drug-related motor vehicle crashes on public roads involving at least one “principal highway vehicle.”
The updated fines for careless driving causing death are now $50,000, which according to the Globe and Mail, is one of the toughest laws in the country. Other fines, such as those for distracted driving include $1,000 for using a hand held device (such as a cellphone) on a first offense, with the fine doubling and tripling for repeat offense. Demerit points and license suspensions are additional penalties alongside the fines. Fines and penalties are also increased for impaired driving and refusing a roadside drug or alcohol test. Many of these laws have been strengthened and rolled out in lieu of the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada.
There has been a major movement across Canada to increase awareness about impaired driving since legalization. In British Columbia, the following ad campaign was instituted praising Millennials for being the generation with the most designated drivers:
There is still so much to be done to help control and limit the number of dangerous driving incidents that occur. But, if anything, the Government of Ontario, and other Canadian provinces, have served a great example as to what can be done to take action.