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Can the Province of Ontario do more to prevent dangerous driving?

A recent survey conducted by Leger Research on behalf of insurer belairdirect found that the vast, vast majority of Canadians (95 per cent) believe they are good drivers, a conclusion that might surprise Ontario personal injury lawyers. Most of the survey’s 1,551 respondents were also able to identify risky driving behaviour, including driving under the influence, distracted driving, and fatigued driving.

Paradoxically, a staggering 93 per cent of the same respondents admitted to bad driving habits including distracted driving, eating while driving, talking on a cellphone while driving, and applying makeup while driving, according to the Globe and Mail’s Andrew Clark. An additional 31 per cent admitted to running red lights, and 29 per cent to disobeying road signs.

“Show me someone who thinks they’re a good driver and I’ll show you someone who’s never seen a professional take a car around the track,” Clark writes. “If we’re being honest, most of us are pretty good drivers at best and the thing that keeps us that way is a realistic appraisal of our skills.”

When even self-described “good drivers” engage in risky behaviour, what can be done to improve road safety? Ontario personal injury lawyers understand that distracted driving activities like the ones belairdirect’s respondents admitted to cause more accidents in the province today than drunk driving.

Indeed, Queen’s Park already imposes stiff penalties on distracted drivers. A convicted individual will have their license suspended and face a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee for a total of $490, if settled out of court. If a court appearance is necessary, the fine can be as much as $1,000.

Drivers will also have three demerit points applied to their records, which allows insurance brokers to apply further monetary punishment. Some drivers could see their rates double until the points are cleared, and even those with infraction-free records are likely to experience a bump of a couple hundred dollars.

“People just don’t think about the insurance aspects of bad driving,” InsuranceHotline.com’s Anne Marie Thomas told the Globe and Mail.

While lawmakers and insurers adopt monetary penalties to prevent distracted driving, the belairdirect study reveals the possibility of a different approach: paying off drivers. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to quit at least one bad habit in exchange for a cash incentive.

While the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP don’t condone payments to dangerous drivers, the survey makes clear that distracted driving remains a serious issue in Canada, even among those who consider themselves safe, capable drivers. If the government’s existing punishments fail to improve road safety, perhaps more creative solutions are necessary.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today. We can help you access compensation for your injuries.


Image credit: Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

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