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Harsh penalties needed for drivers who kill or injure: Oshawa MPP

Jennifer French says families facing “insult to injury” by small fines for fatal crashes

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French wants harsher penalties for drivers who cause injury or death to others. (Photo by Colin Williamson)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s MPP wants lawbreaking motorists who injure or kill others to pay the price.

Jennifer French has tabled a private member’s bill to line up penalties for drivers who cause serious injuries or death to another driver with those for a careless driving conviction.

A conviction of careless driving comes with a fine between $2,000 and $50,000, a licence suspension up to five years, and possibly up to two years in jail.

However, French says many drivers who are arrested for careless driving have their charges reduced to a less-serious offence in court.

Other traffic violations under the Highway Traffic Act result in a fine between $100 and $1,000, no matter the extent of physical damage they cause another.

French recalls an incident a few years ago when two motorcyclists were killed by another motorist who illegally turned left in front of them.

She told The Oshawa Express because the driver was only convicted of making an improper left turn, the fine was $500.

“Unfortunately, their families were left with insult to injury,” French said. “Drivers making unsafe left turns or U-turns or following too closely behind another car can cause serious injury or death to others on the road, yet the penalty that results from violating road rules and then causing an accident is nowhere near strong enough.”

Drivers of smaller vehicles, including motorcycles, are at a “greater risk of serious injury,” the Oshawa MPP stated.

The Bikers Rights Organization of Ontario applauded French’s bill.

“The oversight for this situation can be corrected with this new private member’s bill to provide stiffer penalties for Highway Traffic Act infractions that result in death or serious injury,” a statement from the organization reads.

French says a similar bill made it through a second reading in 2017 but was never called for consideration in committee.