15 May Essential Travel Only – Not A License To Speed
Written By: Janet Lebeau, Law Clerk
As people around the globe unite to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontarians are doing their part by staying home, practicing physical distancing, and limiting travel for essential reasons. This time has been difficult for all of us, whether you have lost someone to COVID-19, lost your job, had to cancel your wedding, or simply can’t eat at your favourite restaurant. The effects of COVID-19 have been devastating for many, and we will feel those effects, possibly for a long time to come. We should be proud of how we have seen Ontarians unite, to come together and support each other, actively demonstrating their kind acts towards one another. However, we seem to be seeing some increasingly negative and reckless behaviours happening on our roads.
While Ontario is starting to see a slight decline in COVID-19, with 329 new cases reported on May 12, 2020, stunt driving and speeding offences have been on the rise. The province declared a state of emergency on March 17, 2020, and since then, there have been fewer drivers and, therefore, less traffic on our highways and local roads. Unfortunately, as a result, there have been drivers who are taking advantage of these quieter streets, which have been putting others on the road at risk, as well as risking their own lives in the process. According to York Regional Police, from March 1, 2020, through May 11, 2020, 306 charges have been filed for stunt driving, compared to 149 charges at the same time in 2019. Under the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario, a stunt driving offence occurs when the driver’s speed exceeds 50km/h over the speed limit. However, stunt driving can also include the following:
- Squealing your tires from a stopped position (intentionally making the vehicle lose traction);
- Operating a vehicle from a position other than the driver’s seat;
- Doughnuts, drifting, and wheelies;
- Occupying a passing lane for longer than is reasonably required to overtake;
- Driving with a person in the trunk of a motor vehicle, or driving while not in the driver’s seat;
- Driving without due care and consideration of others on the road, or in a way that might endanger someone by: intentionally preventing another person from passing and stopping, cutting someone off, or slowing down;
- Driving as close as possible to another vehicle, person, or cyclist;
- Jumping into a left turn before oncoming traffic commences through an intersection
Notable Stunt Driving Cases during COVID Restrictions
Although all of the stunt driving acts are equally dangerous, speeding offences are the most commonly known and charged. Some of the more notable cases in the last few months are:
- In March, a driver was caught doing speeds of 213 km/hr on Highway 401;
- In April, a driver was caught travelling at 271 km/hr and blew out his tire;
- In May, a 19-year old driver was caught speeding at 308 km/hr on the QEW in Burlington;
At these rates of speed, a driver would not be able to react in time to adjust to another vehicle changing lanes, a hazard, a pedestrian or cyclist. These dangerous acts can cause severe injury and even fatalities that would impact our healthcare system at a time when it is under extreme pressure to manage the effects of the pandemic.
Speedometers have been climbing
In the time of COVID-19, families are finding new ways to pass the time. There has been an increase in pedestrian traffic in local neighbourhoods as families take walks with their children, joggers are dashing out on the road to keep social distancing, and more cyclists are riding on local streets. All of this is happening as speeding tickets are on the rise and more than 6,900 speeding tickets have been handed out between March 23, 2020 and April 27, 2020, compared to 5,537 tickets in 2019. COVID-19 has already left us feeling isolated and anxious, and our communities should feel safe enough to walk on our streets without worrying about dangerous drivers. We need to be as vigilant in taking care of each other out on the roads as we are in taking care of each other healthwise during this time.
Slow Down on Car Accidents
The good news is that the number of car accidents is down substantially, as fewer drivers are on the road with many people staying at home. There were 1,535 crashes reported between March 23, 2020 and April 27, 2020, compared to 7,309 collisions during the same time last year.
Be Safe, Be Kind and Take Care of Each Other
At Gluckstein Lawyers, our team of compassionate personal injury lawyers will be there if you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Our commitment to full-circle care ensures that you can count on us to be with you so you can focus on getting better. We will walk you through the various legal resources available and explain how they relate to your case. To learn more about how helping you work through the steps to recovery after a personal injury is part of Gluckstein Lawyers’ commitment to full-circle care, contact Janet Lebeau.