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Mr. Speaker, Ontario has the safest roads in North America. We're proud of that. But still we can do better. We must do better.
We need to make our roads even safer. We need to ease congestion. We need more reliable public transit.
Our economy depends on a transportation system that's efficient. So does our quality of life, our environment and the future of our province.
And we are making progress, real progress in improving that system.
We're providing one billion dollars in provincial gas tax funding to municipalities over five years. That means better transit and more convenient, reliable service.
The new Child and Youth Safety Bill, Bill 73, which passed last December will protect lives.
And I've been working flat out on solving the issues at border crossings. Keeping traffic moving at the border, and across the province is essential to Ontario's prosperity.
I am also determined to improve GO Transit to get more people riding quickly and comfortably.
As a fundamental part of our transportation plan, I am pleased to introduce this legislation promoting transit and safety on Ontario's roads.
I look forward to hearing the views of members on all aspects of what we are proposing.
Today, I want to focus on a few items, issues that have real meaning for everyone in Ontario.
First and foremost - safety.
Over the past five years, more than 15,000 pedestrians in Ontario have been hurt, or killed crossing the street. Many of these tragedies happened at intersections with traffic lights, at pedestrian crossovers and school crossings.
In Toronto, for example, 42 of the 74 road-related deaths in 2003 involved pedestrians.
Over five years there were nearly 12,000 collisions in highway work areas. Fifty people died in those tragedies.
The heartbreaking truth is that children are nearly five times more likely to be killed walking or running out onto a street than adults.
And the simple fact is that drivers who go 30 km over the posted limit on city streets are almost six times more likely to kill or seriously injure someone.
And the very few drivers who go 50 km an hour over the posted limit on our highways are nearly ten times more likely to kill or seriously hurt someone.
This Bill proposes obvious solutions.
The reality is, most collisions, where someone gets hurt or killed, happen on municipal roads. And the reality is, speed is a factor in almost half of all collisions.
This Bill would make our roads safer for drivers, for pedestrians, and for those who build and maintain our roads and highways.
The Bill includes other safety measures by improving daily truck inspections with a longer and more stringent check list.
This Bill would make flying debris from a car or truck an offence. This would apply to all drivers, not just commercial drivers. A fender or grill that bounces onto a highway from a car can be just as dangerous as a flying truck wheel.
The bill would allow for variable speed limits on designated highways to manage traffic depending on weather or traffic conditions.
And, Mr. Speaker, something my colleague, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines has pushed for, for ten years, to improve winter safety by allowing the use of studded tires for drivers in the North. This would give them more safety options to handle the icy conditions.
And something else, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier promised, a crackdown on illegal taxis. We want to protect travellers from shady drivers who charge as much as $180 for a ride from Pearson International Airport to downtown Toronto.
The new legislation has measures to improve public transit and cut commuting times.
The Bill would allow us to designate and enforce HOV lanes for cars with two or more people. This encourages carpooling, and makes better use of our highways.
The bill would also allow police to clear and reopen highways faster after a collision. This means less delay, and less frustration for all Ontario drivers. This would also help our economy. We know that every one minute in delays, means 170 million dollars a year in higher shipping costs.
This morning I was at a public school in Toronto. I talked about improving safety for pedestrians.
Tomorrow, I will have more to say about easing congestion and getting traffic moving quickly after a collision or spill.
I know that all MPPs care passionately about these issues. I am hopeful we can move ahead together. We have more to do to make sure Ontario has the best transportation system in the world.
A transportation system for the 21st century. A transportation system we'll be proud to leave our children.
This Bill, if passed, would be one key step along the way.
Bill 169 2005, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act and to amend and repeal various other statutes in respect of transportation-related matters