Tag Archives: distracted driving

New Driving Laws Coming into Effect in Ontario September 1st 2015

judge hammer

Attention all of you road warriors here in Ontario, Canada!

Effective September 1st, 2015 the Ontario Government will begin to enforce new legislation and stiffer penalties for existing driving laws.

Why am I writing about this?

Because for reasons unbeknownst to me, our government does not directly notify anyone with a driver’s license directly whenever they change the law.  I mean, they obviously have our current mailing address which is reflected on our driver’s license. Could this be due to the expense of sending out a mailer? Or is it a sneaky way for them to earn more revenue from penalizing individuals who are not aware of the new laws?

Regardless, let’s get to the facts! If you’re driving in Ontario, here is what you need to know:

According to the Ministry of Transportation Bulletin  issued June 2nd 2015, there will be:

  1. Increased Penalties for Distracted Driving. Fines will be increased from an average of $300 to up to $1000 in addition to 3 demerit points upon conviction. The Ontario Government estimates that by 2016 the number of fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving.  Honestly, I’m surprised it hasn’t already!
  1. Require drivers to wait until pedestrians have completed crossing the road at all crosswalks before proceeding. It’s great to see that Ontario finally got on board with this because this is the only place where I’ve driven where drivers have such a blatant disregard for pedestrians! Perhaps this is why pedestrians represent almost 20% of the motor vehicle-related fatalities on our roads.
  1. Increased Penalties (fines and demerits) for drivers who “door” cyclists. Any driver who blatantly opens a door or moves their vehicle for that matter without looking should be penalized for such carelessness.
  1. Require drivers maintain a minimum of 1 metre distance when passing cyclists. This is good but all too often I see cyclists riding side-by-side, hogging entire lanes of the road! I have no patience for those people. We are supposed to share the road, not hog it regardless of whether you are on a bicycle or in a motor vehicle!
  1. Denial of driver’s license plate renewal if the driver has any outstanding Provincial Offences Act fines. I thought that this was already a law but apparently I have been misinformed!
  1. Allow a broader range of qualified medical professionals to identify and report medically unfit drivers. I’m not sure exactly what this means.  I can see (pun intended) if an optometrist may deem an individual legally blind and therefore unfit to drive.  However to what extent would this apply to other medical professionals? Could a nurse, a naturopath, a chiropractor…etc deem someone unfit to drive? Where does the government draw the line?
  1. Application of existing alcohol-impaired penalties to drug-impaired drivers. I’m not sure exactly they intend to quantify the degree of impairment for drug users since there is currently no simple roadside test synonymous to a breathalyzer. They also didn’t specify as to whether or not this refers to just illegal drugs or if it also applies to prescription drugs.  Recent statistics in Ontario show that over 45% of drivers killed in a fatal car crash had alcohol and/or drugs in their system.  What does that say for the other 55% of drivers???

For the most part, I agree with all of these new penalties because I believe it will make our roads safer.  Where I am uncertain, is where the laws seem “too broad” and open to interpretation.

Furthermore, what is quite frightening is that the Ontario Government is also considering implementing an online monetary penalty system which would replace in-court procedures for resolving disputes.  What that means is that if you get a traffic ticket, it will no longer have any written details from the issuing officer, just a penalty notice indicating the amount of money due and the number of demerits that will be applied. It also means that you will lose your right to contest the decision of the issuing officer in a court of law, therefore losing the right to a “fair process”.

How do you feel about the implementation of these new laws?

How do these laws compare to the laws in your home province or state?

I would love to hear your feedback fellow road warriors.

In the meantime, safe travels.

Cheers,

TSW

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The Busy Bee Gets Stung

Yellow-Jacket-Wasp

Entering a new year, most of us sales professionals will start preparing to hit the pavement once again. As you all know, all of that travel certainly doesn’t always go without incident.   In my first blog post of 2015, I will share with you, one of my funniest “Road Woes” which happened to me while I was working in Quebec last year.

Managing a territory as large as Canada is no simple task.  Calling on mobile medical professionals adds a whole other level of difficulty and requires superior time management skills.  On an average day, I will travel anywhere between 400-500 km and meet with 4 or 5 practitioners.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound very efficient!” however, most of my clients (90%) are located in remote areas, travel in a 1-2 hour radius from their office base and frequently get called out to emergencies.  Needless to say, I spend a lot of time on the road and well, anything can happen!

I usually spend the better part of September calling on my clients in Quebec (AKA “La belle province”).  For those of you who are not familiar with Canadian geography, Quebec is the only French speaking province in Canada.  It is essentially its own country with its own culture that is completely different from the rest of Canada.  Whenever I travel there, I always seem to experience the most hardships and not simply because I am an Anglophone.

This past year, I was about half way through my trip.  So far so good I thought.  No speeding tickets, no accident and no flat tires. I was travelling along Aut-55 to Sherbrooke grooving along to some tunes approximately 1 hour from my destination when I discovered a large bee inside my vehicle.  To be precise, it wasn’t a bee but rather a yellow jacket which is a type of wasp. It was approximately 1” long which is quite huge!

Everyone always says that if you don’t provoke them, that they won’t sting you.  Well, everyone is wrong.  So wrong!

When I first noticed it sitting on my passenger seat, I thought (and hoped) that if I simply opened the window it will just fly out.  But it didn’t. I suppose driving at 120km/hr isn’t exactly conducive to flying out of a window if you are a wasp.

How did it even get in my car without me noticing?  A few days prior when I was unloading my things from my trunk, I noticed a large wasp land inside my trunk. It didn’t leave and I couldn’t find it, so I closed my trunk and forgot about it.

Well, somehow this thing was still alive and it made its way into the front seat of my car and boy, it wasn’t happy!

I continued driving and tried to remain calm, telling myself “If you don’t piss it off, it won’t sting you.”.  I was planning on keeping calm and taking the next exit to safely pull off the road, stop the car, open the windows and doors and let it out of my vehicle.

Then suddenly, I felt an excruciating, sharp, stabbing pain in my back!

The wasp was under my shirt and bit me.  Even though I leaned forward towards the steering wheel, it continued to bite me and again, and again.

After the fourth bite, I was delirious with pain and could barely concentrate on the road.  I was still 2km from the next exit and I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I swerved my car to the side of the road and pulled over.  The car was still moving when I threw it into park.  At that point I really didn’t care if I ruined my transmission.  I immediately jumped out of my car, ripped my shirt off and started running around screaming at the top of my lungs.

So there I was, on the side of a major highway, running around my car wearing just a bra and screaming like a madwoman!  I’m sure someone caught that on video and posted it on YouTube somewhere.

I knew I was bit pretty bad and I needed some sort of treatment.  Fortunately I had my fishing gear in my trunk and in it I had a tube of AfterBite.  I couldn’t apply it to my back directly, so I squirted the stuff all over the window of the passenger side of my car and then proceeded to rub my back all over it.  Classy move, I know!  But it helped a bit.  Thank goodness I wasn’t allergic!

As I drove to my hotel, I was thinking, “What if I was allergic and had a medical crisis while I am here in Quebec? If I call 911, do they even speak English?”.

When I arrived at my hotel, I asked the concierge that very question.  She informed me that it is mandatory for all 911 operators in Quebec to speak English.

This turned out to be very useful information as the next day, I was involved in a car accident with a man who did not speak English and I had to call the police.   If I didn’t know they spoke English, I probably wouldn’t have made that phone call and the guy who hit me would have gotten away.

All things happen for a reason I suppose.

So the next time you’re driving on the highway and you see someone driving erratically, just think, maybe they are getting violently stung by wasps. This experience has given me a whole new perspective on “distracted driving”.  You never know what’s really going on behind someone else’s wheel.

Drive safe fellow travellers.

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