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Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with Dr. Kular, MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale and my Parliamentary Assistant, Mr. Lalonde, MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
In leading off debate on this Bill, Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore that at its very heart is the fundamental issue of public safety.
Safety for children at a school crossing.
Safety for senior citizens at a crosswalk.
Safety for highway construction workers.
Safety for taxi passengers.
Safety for student drivers.
And for people commuting to work.
Safety for truckers, and for northern residents driving in harsh winter weather.
In short, safety for all Ontarians.
The facts are clear. Fatalities are down. We have the lowest fatality rate ever recorded on Ontario roads. In fact, it's the lowest in all of North America.
But still, over 800 people died on our roads in 2003. The sad reality is that speed kills. And that it keeps on killing. Too many people are dying while simply crossing the road. 15 thousand pedestrians have been struck or killed in the past five years.
People driving fifty k over the limit are almost ten times more likely to hurt or kill someone.
In 2003 speeding or loss of control was a factor in about 44 per cent of all deadly crashes.
Those collisions took the lives of more than 300 people (363) We want to hit aggressive speeders in the wallet.
And, if the Bill passes, we plan to give them longer licence suspensions.
This bill proposes to increase fines for those who drive thirty kilometres over the limit.
And to allow the courts to impose licence suspensions up to one year for those who are convicted of repeatedly driving fifty kilometres over the posted limit.
If this legislation passes, it would be an offence to ignore the "STOP" or "SLOW" signs in road work zones.
That's important because over five years there have been more than 11 thousand collisions in highway work zones. 50 people have died.
That, Mr. Speaker, is why we're getting tougher with speeders. We want fines doubled for speeding in highway construction zones, and doubled for those drivers who ignore the rules at school and pedestrian crossings.
We're doing what we can to improve safety. Right now 45 percent of the pedestrians killed, are struck at marked crossings.
We would also improve truck safety with more rigorous daily inspections.
There would be tough new rules targeting those who operate illegal taxis, limousines and passenger vans.
And there would be tougher standards for driving schools offering Ministry approved courses.
The police would be able to clear highway collisions more quickly. That would ease driver frustration and help the economy.
A major crash on the 401 can not only tie up traffic, but lead to all sorts of secondary collisions.
And to save lives, the bill proposes to allow a new generation of studded tires to be used in icy winter conditions of northern Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, when I introduced this legislation, the opposition parties knew that it was the right thing to do.
But they chose to say this legislation won't work.
But road construction workers support it.
And the truckers are keen to do their part.
Municipalities are pleased we are adding provincial rules to crack down on speeders on local roads.
And police support this law.
Mr. Speaker, let's listen to what police and others say about this bill.
Staff Sergeant Tom Carrique of the York Regional Police said: "Anything we can do to deal with speeding will make our roads safer."
As the Metroland papers said: "Peel Regional Police are lauding the Bill."
And the Woodstock Sentinel Review said: "A Step Toward Pedestrian Safety."
And the Ottawa Citizen said: "Right move."
When the opposition criticizes the proposal for studded tires, they should think about parents in the North who will have greater mobility to get their sick children to the hospital.
Ontario has the safest roads in North America. And every time we toughen road safety laws, we get results.
People now wear seatbelts.
Getting tough on drunk drivers has clearly saved lives. Introducing mandatory bike helmets for children has saved untold grief.
Ontario will continue to lead the way in road safety thanks to responsible citizens, education campaigns, fine police officers, good roads, and sound laws like the bill we are debating.
Bill 169 demonstrates that we can, must and will do more to make our roads even safer.
And that is why, Mr. Speaker, I urge Honourable Members to give this legislation their enthusiastic support.
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