Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 2, 2017
Ontario MPP proposes law to fine distracted pedestrians
A new private member’s bill that would see distracted pedestrians fined up to $50 for crossing the road while using their smartphones was unveiled at Ontario’s Legislature on Monday.
The “Phones Down, Heads Up Act” will be introduced by Toronto MPP Yvan Baker, with a debate set for next March. The representative for Etobicoke Centre, in the city’s west end, said he was prompted to draft the legislation after his constituents raised concerns about the number of pedestrian deaths in Toronto.
In 2016, 42 pedestrians were killed on the city’s streets, the most since 2002.
Baker’s bill would ban people from looking at their phones or electronic devices when crossing roads, with an initial $50 fine for the first offence, $75 for the second and up to $125 for the third. Exceptions would include pedestrians making an emergency call or if they began speaking on the phone before stepping into the crosswalk.
“These fines are modest and are meant to act as a deterrent,” Baker said during a news conference Monday morning. He was joined by Brian Patterson, chief executive of the Ontario Safety League, a group whose work includes pedestrian advocacy. The organization is endorsing the bill.
The legislation would also mandate a ministry of transportation-led annual distracting driving awareness campaign, with a focus on texting and driving.
“This bill is about raising awareness about risky behaviour because limiting that behaviour will save lives,” Baker said. (Source: CBC News)