Bill 31– Making Ontario’s Roads Safer???By: Robert D. Katz, R.S.W
- Trivial Changes to the Highway Traffic Act
- Reduce Benefits to injured people
- Uneven Bumpers Still Kill and Maim
- Give drunk & dangerous drivers a few more chances
- Rehabilitation Industry Will Profit from Ontario’s Negligence
There is a real irony to my vocational rehabilitation practice. Physicians and rehabilitation professionals like me profit from accidents – especially catastrophic accidents. But virtually all of us would be happy to see our practices wither and die, if this was the result of safer highways and fewer accidents.
In July of 1994, Ontario introduced photo radar. It was tough on speeders but good for everyone else. Serious, highway accidents decreased, but so did work for ambulance drivers, emergency physicians, undertakers, and rehabilitation professionals. Speeders raged against the law. “It’s not fair that I should get a ticket just because a camera caught my car speeding” they howled. “They can’t even be certain I was driving; I shouldn’t get a ticket until I have an accident.”
But the statistics told a different story. Almost immediately after the cameras were installed on bridges above the 400 series highways, serious accidents dropped by 9% – and they remained 9% below average all the while that the dangerous drivers whined about unfair treatment.
In 1995, Ontario discarded photo radar. Within months, the accident rate shot back up to pre-1994 levels. Lots of people suffered death or devastating injuries, but the ambulance drivers, emergency physicians, undertakers, and rehabilitation professionals were as busy as before.
This is disgusting. I do not want to profit from catastrophically injured people. I have seen far too many – and in most cases their ‘accidents’ were preventable. Unfortunately, although the Ministry of Transportation knows how to reduce carnage on the roads, they don’t want to become unpopular. Besides, the goal is to lower insurance premiums by reducing benefits – not preventing accidents.
Bill 31 – Making Ontario’s Roads Safer, takes a few baby steps in the right direction, but it cuts benefits to injured people and avoids aggravating whole categories of dangerous drivers. Numerous studies have proven that it is as dangerous to talk on a hands-free telephone as to hold one next to the ear – but hands-free remains legal, because drivers would be outraged if they could not talk to their friends before causing an accident.
Uneven bumpers are killers. Large wheels that raise the height of a van (or car) also raise the height of the bumper – and ensure severe damage when the raised bumper collides with a ‘normal-sized’ car. Aftermarket bumpers are also a menace – whether the body shop installs them to save money or an idiot pays for ‘decorative’ raised bumpers these untested parts greatly increase the probability of injury or death in a collision.
Unfortunately, the province does not want to upset mud-truck enthusiasts or drivers who love ‘Bad Ass Custom Bumpers.’ So accidents happen. Rehabilitation providers profit when people are disabled by uneven bumpers, but we’d rather see safer roads than more business.
There are lots more dangerous practices Ontario chooses to ignore. The politicians seem to think that ‘driving is a right, not a privilege.’ And for some strange reason, the law always gives dangerous, drunken drivers few more chances.
The best way to reduce insurance costs is to reduce accidents. Trivial measures produce trivial results.
Examine Bill 31 at:
See the true danger of hands-free phone at:
Review the statistics on photo radar: