Ontario: Considers Safe Texting Areas on Province’s Highways

Update:

Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets
Ontario Provincial Police say distracted driving was the cause of more deaths on provincial highways than any other factor for the third consecutive year, contributing to 69 deaths in 2015. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Ontario is considering the idea of putting signs on highways to alert drivers about upcoming areas where they can safely pull over to text or check their emails.

All three parties voted in favour on second reading of a private member’s bill from Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli to create so-called safe texting zones.

Fedeli said signs on highways would inform drivers about 185 existing areas such as commuter parking lots, transit stations and rest stops where they can safely pull off to use their smart phones or tablets.

He said he got the idea while driving through Pennsylvania and New York, and saw signs in both states promoting safe texting zones, and said it would not require any new infrastructure.

Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets
Bill 190, Safe Texting Zones Act, 2016 has reached second reading. This will allow motorists to pull over on the highway at designated areas to text or talk on their cell phones. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Fines are not enough, MPP says

Fedeli said increased fines are not enough to curb distracted driving habits, and said safe texting zones will save lives and help educate motorists about the dangers of texting behind the wheel.

The Ontario Provincial Police reported in March that distracted driving was the cause of more deaths on provincial highways than any other factor for the third consecutive year, contributing to 69 deaths in 2015.

Fedeli said he’s had widespread support from police, insurance companies, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Ontario Safety League for his Safe Texting Zones Act.

“It sends a clear message to distracted drivers that there is no longer any excuse to endanger themselves and those they share the road with,” said Fedeli. “Their text can wait until the next texting zone.”

Ontario stiffened penalties for distracted driving last fall, with a set fine of $490 that a judge could increase to $1,000, plus three demerit points on conviction.

New Democrat transport critic Wayne Gates told the legislature that it’s not just the younger drivers who text.

“Older people, seniors are doing it, and young people are doing it, and it’s putting people at risk,” said Gates.

Private member’s bills rarely become law in Ontario, but Fedeli is confident his will either be passed or be adopted by the Liberal government after members from all sides of the legislature spoke in favour of it.

Toronto: 10 Worst Spots for Parking Tickets

Update:

Some people have had "ENUF" when it comes to parking tickets. Especially when the fines in Toronto continue to escalate. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Some people have had “ENUF” when it comes to parking tickets. Especially when the fines in Toronto continue to escalate. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Parking Tickets hurt. When the fine is $150, it hurts alot more. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Parking tickets hurt. If the fine is $150, it hurts alot more. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Hospitals, malls and universities top the list of highest parking ticket volume in 2015, city data shows.

If you’re looking to avoid that parking ticket, you might want to stay clear of hospitals. Or malls. Or universities.

And if right now you’re thinking, “I’ll just park on a side street instead,” you might have another think coming.

Data of all parking tickets issued in Toronto in 2015, recently released by the city through its Open Data portal, shows the hotspots for parking enforcement haven’t changed much from previous years.

A little over 2 million tickets were issued last year, in line with previous years, with the most popular days falling in April and July. The highest ticket count fell on April 16 at 8,382 tickets.

His Worship Patrick Marum was appointed to the court as a Justice of the Peace on September 7, 2006. As a result of Judge Strathy’s decision in Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario v. Ontario (Attorney General) [2008] O.J. No. 2131 (Superior Court of Justice), the mandatory retirement age for justices of the peace is now age 75.
The City of Toronto is always looking for ways of raising revenue for the city coffers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
As in previous years, Sunnybrook Hospital tops the list in sheer volume of tickets. More than 9,000 tickets, or roughly 25 a day, were issued at its 2075 Bayview Ave. address, more than 4,000 more than the next-highest address, 20 Edward St.

Many of the addresses topping the list, such as Sunnybrook, are not enforced by the Toronto Police Service, according to Brian Moniz, operations supervisor for parking enforcement west at TPS. Parking lots on private property, like those at shopping malls and hospitals, will get trained and licensed to enforce their own parking, which saves police resources.

“They would have the ability to enforce it on their property, as long as all our regulated requirements are met,” Moniz said.

Some of the addresses with high-ticket volume are close to urban hotspots. Edward St. is close to Yonge-Dundas Square, for example, while James St. is wedged between Old City Hall and the Eaton Centre.

For a public area like James St., Moniz said the issue is often parking that prevents police from getting access to the courthouse at Old City Hall.

“We have to ensure that there’s a free flow of traffic for the large prisoner vehicles that are coming in,” he said.

http://fightyourtickets.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2013-06-29_4479.jpg
Some Toronto Parking Enforcement Officers are overzealous and over ticket to meet their daily quota’s. Picture by fightyourtickets.ca

PARKING HOT SPOTS

From hospitals to malls and downtown hotspots, here are the addresses with the top ten (10) highest number of traffic tickets in 2015 (Source: City of Toronto):

1. 2075 Bayview Ave

Tickets: 9,088

Total fined: $273,510

What’s nearby: Sunnybrook Hospital

Other: Sunnybrook Hospital, which monitors its own parking, far outstripped other addresses in the city, almost doubling any other for volume of tickets.

2. 20 Edward St

Tickets: 4,870

Total fined: $189,070

What’s nearby: Yonge and Dundas Sts.

Other: Right behind Yonge and Dundas, Edward St. might be a prime area for people hoping for close street parking to Yonge-Dundas Square and restaurants and shopping in the area. It also used to be the site of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, which closed in 2014.

3. 3401 Dufferin St

Tickets: 4,658

Total fined: $236,690

What’s nearby: Yorkdale Mall

Other: Like other malls and hospitals, Yorkdale enforces its own parking.

4. James St

Tickets: 3,229

Total fined: $201,270

What’s nearby: Old City Hall, Eaton Centre

Other: Wedged right between the Eaton Centre and Old City Hall, James St. has very little street parking but is regularly patrolled by parking enforcement officers. Police sometimes need to park on the street to transfer prisoners to court.

5. 1 Brimley Rd. South

Tickets: 3,184

Total fined: $384,740

What’s nearby: Scarborough Bluffs

Other: The bluffs are popular in summer and only street parking is allowed. Small wonder that things can get chaotic in the busier days.

6. 103 The Queensway

Tickets: 3,062

Total fined: $93,820

What’s nearby: High Park

Other: It’s not clear what the pull is in this area. The address has a tall residential building, with High Park close by.

7. 1265 Military Trail

Tickets: 2.930

Total fined: $99,340

What’s nearby: University of Toronto Scarborough

Other: The university campus enforces its own parking.

8. La Plante Ave

Tickets: 2,840

Total fined: $121,790

What’s nearby: Toronto General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Women’s College Hospital, University of Toronto St. George Campus

Other: The hospitals surrounding La Plante don’t have their own parking, which makes the street an attractive option for those visiting the hospitals and trying to park close by.

9. 1090 Don Mills Rd

Tickets: 2,797

Total fined: $643,970

What’s nearby: Shops at Don Mills

Other: The mall at Don Mills enforces its own parking. Out of all the addresses in the database, the shops had the highest revenue.

10. 15 Singer Ct.

Tickets: 2,694

Total fined: $92,570

What’s nearby: North York General Hospital, IKEA

Other: This is not the address of the hospital, but close by. It’s possible crafty drivers using this area to park hare hoping to avoid hospital parking fees.

Nathan Philips Square which contains Toronto's City Hall. The City raised $2 Million dollars last year from parking tickets. In 2016, they will even raise more, given the hefty increases in fines. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Nathan Philips Square which contains Toronto’s City Hall. The City raised $2 Million dollars last year from parking tickets. In 2016, they will even raise more, given the hefty increases in fines. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

B.C.: Penalty for Distracted Driving is Doubling and Worst

Update:

Starting June 1, 2016 first-time offenders will receive the $368 ticket and $175 for four penalty points on their driving records, for a total of $543. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Starting June 1, 2016 first-time offenders will receive the $368 ticket and $175 for four penalty points on their driving records, for a total of $543. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Starting June 1, distracted driving tickets will cost first-time offenders $368, up from $167

The B.C. government is raising penalties for distracted driving next month, with the fine for a ticket more than doubling to $368. More penalty points will also be added, and there will be tougher penalties for repeat offenders.

“Some people are still not getting the message,” Transportation Minister Todd Stone said in a statement. “Today’s announcement … sends the message loud and clear. We will not tolerate distracted driving on our roads.”

The current fine in this province for distracted driving is $167, one of the lowest in the country according to the Canadian Automobile Association.

Starting June 1, first-time offenders will receive the $368 ticket and $175 for four penalty points on their driving records, for a total of $543.Beginning today, June 1, 2013 if a driver is observed driving while texting and the driver is convicted, the penalty of 3 points has increased to 5 points.

Repeat offenders will pay the same $368, but will receive escalating penalty points for each offence within 12 months:

  • 2nd offence: $368 + $520 in penalty points = $888
  • 5th offence: $368 + $3760 in penalty points = $4,128
  • 10th offence: $368 + $14,520 in penalty points = $14,888

Repeat offenders will also face an automatic licence review, which could result in a driving prohibition of three to 12 months.

Drivers in the graduated licencing program will have their licences reviewed after a first offence.

Increase fines for distracted driving from the current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000, assigning three (3) demerit points upon conviction, and escalating sanctions on convictions for novice drivers.
Drivers in the graduated licencing program will have their licences reviewed after a first distracted driving offence. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

‘It’s got to stop’

“People really need to get the message that texting while driving, it kills people. It’s now almost killing as many people as drinking and driving and it’s got to stop.”

Last month, a Richmond woman finally lost her license on her 14th distracted driving charge.

According to one expert, distracted driving, especially texting while driving, will become the biggest cause of youth driver deaths in Canada in the not too distant future, overtaking impaired driving and speeding.

stats

All numbers based on police data, from 2010 to 2014. (CBC)

Proposed ‘textalyzer’ law for “Text Driving” raises privacy concerns

Update: see previous post – June 1, 2013 New York: Governor Cuomo Announces Actions to Strengthen Penalties for Texting-While-Driving and Protect New Yorkers

A person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if they text while driving, or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers, according to CAA. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca
A person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if they text while driving, or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers, according to CAA. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Police don’t have the right tools to combat texting and driving, advocates say

A proposed New York state law that would allow police to test technology to check if drivers had been texting and driving before a crash — without a warrant — is causing controversy.

Advocates of the proposed law say better tools to help police enforce distracted-driving laws will discourage reckless behaviour such as texting and save lives.

But critics say the proposed law doesn’t contain enough safeguards to protect the privacy of drivers.

The proposed legislation was introduced as a bipartisan bill in April by Felix Ortiz, Democratic assistant speaker for the New York Assembly, and Republican Senator Terrence P. Murphy.

It requires any driver involved in a collision resulting in damage, injury or death to surrender to police any mobile device in their possession at or near the time of the collision.Beginning today, June 1, 2013 if a driver is observed driving while texting and the driver is convicted, the penalty of 3 points has increased to 5 points.

Police would test the device for evidence of use in the minutes before the collision. Results of the test would be used as evidence of a violation of distracted-driving laws, which ban texting while driving.

According to the Canadian Automobile Association, a person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if they text while driving, compared with non-distracted drivers.

“There is a significant number of drivers who continually engage in reckless behavior, such as texting, using apps and browsing the web on their mobile devices while behind the wheel,” Ortiz said in a release announcing the proposal.

“These people will continue to put themselves and others at risk unless we give law enforcement better tools to enforce existing laws against the use of electronic devices while driving.”

Increase fines for distracted driving from the current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000, assigning three (3) demerit points upon conviction, and escalating sanctions on convictions for novice drivers.
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In memory of Evan

Ortiz and Murphy developed the proposed law in collaboration with Ben Lieberman, co-founder of distracted driving awareness organization Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs). The law is being called “Evan’s law” after Lieberman’s son, who was 19 years old when he died a month after a collision that Lieberman believes was linked to texting and driving.

“We believe strongly that this is an impairment equal to if not worse than drunk driving,” Lieberman told CBC’s The Current Friday. He’s convinced that the proposed law will discourage such behaviour.

“Once people were held accountable for drunk driving issues, that’s when the problem started getting better,” he said.

Following the crash that killed Evan, the driver’s phone was never examined by police, Lieberman recalled.

“What we learned was that the police rarely look into the phone at all,” he added, “and it’s not their fault, because there isn’t a police protocol in place.”

Lieberman later subpoenaed the driver’s phone records for a civil lawsuit and learned that the driver had been texting while driving on an old road with difficult driving conditions.

“Anyone texting on that road is begging for a collision,” he said.

Technology thought to be feasible

Convinced that police didn’t have the right tools to investigate texting and driving, Lieberman contacted a company called Cellebrite that specializes in phone forensics. He asked if it was possible to create a device that police could plug into a phone at a crash site that would generate a report on the device’s usage during the drive, without revealing private information such as contacts or the content of conversations and text messages

Cellebrite told Lieberman it was confident it could create such a device, and he began working with New York legislators to propose a new law that would make use of it.

Cellebrite declined to be interviewed by The Current.

Andrew Selbst, scholar in residence at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he agrees that texting and driving is a huge problem, but the proposed law as written doesn’t contain enough safeguards.

“One of problems with this is anyone who gets into accident with no evidence or even suspicion that they were actually  texting and driving … will have to turn over their phone on penalty of losing their licence,” he told The Current. “That’s just not how we do it.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that police can’t search a phone without a warrant.

Selbst noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that a warrant is needed to administer a breathalyzer to a driver in case of a suspected drunk driving collision. And that only happens in cases where there’s reason to suspect the driver was intoxicated — for example, if he or she was swerving while driving.

‘Not practical’

Lieberman opposes any requirement for a warrant to test for texting and driving.

“It’s just not practical, and it’s not getting done right now,” he said.

Selbst disagrees, saying that warrants take as little as five minutes to obtain.

“I would be in favour of the ability to apply some sort of technology that could check the phone,” he added, “but with additional safeguards such as warrant predicated on probable cause.”

He added that there’s also no way to know how well such technology protects privacy until it’s available and evaluated by a third party.

In the meantime, he thinks “a world of good could be done” by raising public awareness and training police to ask about distracted driving.

Ontario: If Police Detect “Radar Detectors” Big Fine, Points and Forfeiture

Update:

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cruiser. The OPP are finding that more vehicles that they are pulling over contain radar detector devices. Under section 79 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, OPP can search your vehicle and remove your radar detection device and provide you with a ticket that carries a fine of $179 and three (3) demerit points upon conviction.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cruiser. The OPP are finding that more vehicles that they are pulling over contain radar detector devices. Under section 79 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, OPP can search your vehicle and remove your radar detection device and provide you with a ticket that carries a fine of $175 and three (3) demerit points upon conviction. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Radar Detectors are legal in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. They are illegal in every other province and territory in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Radar Detectors are legal in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. They are illegal in every other province and territory in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

If you are caught carrying a radar detector in your vehicle in Ontario, police can confiscate your radar detector and you’ll receive a ticket, which carries a stiff fine ($175) and three (3) demerit points.

Here are traffic offences in Ontario which carry three (3) demerit points as a penalty:

Three points

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h
  • Driving through, around or under a railway crossing barrier
  • Driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communications/entertainment device or viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to obey a stop sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal
  • Failing to obey traffic control stop sign
  • Failing to obey traffic control slow sign
  • Failing to obey school crossing stop sign
  • Failing to obey the directions of a police officer
  • Driving the wrong way on a divided road
  • Failing to report a collision to a police officer
  • Improper driving where road is divided into lanes
  • Crowding the driver’s seat
  • Going the wrong way on a one-way road
  • Driving or operating a vehicle on a closed road
  • Crossing a divided road where no proper crossing is provided
  • Failing to slow and carefully pass a stopped emergency vehicle
  • Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
  • Failing to move, where possible, into another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle
  • Driving a vehicle that is equipped with or carrying a speed measuring warning device (such as a radar detector)
  • Improper use of a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane
Radar detectors do not work against LIDAR that police use. Police are able to detect radar detectors using technology such as The Spectre RDD. The Spectre RDD (radar detector detector) is a sophisticated, high performance RF receiver tuned specifically to detect radar detectors. It listens for the faint microwave emissions generated by a modern radar detector and delivers an audible and visual response.
Radar detectors do not work against LIDAR that police use. Police are able to detect radar detectors using technology such as The Spectre RDD. The Spectre RDD (radar detector detector) is a sophisticated, high performance RF receiver tuned specifically to detect radar detectors. It listens for the faint microwave emissions generated by a modern radar detector and delivers an audible and visual response. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Here is what section 79 of the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario states:

Speed measuring warning devices

79. (1) In this section,

“speed measuring warning device” means any device or equipment designed or intended for use in a motor vehicle to warn the driver of the presence of speed measuring equipment in the vicinity and includes any device or equipment designed or intended for use in a motor vehicle to interfere with the effective operation of speed measuring equipment.  1996, c. 33, s. 12.

Speed measuring warning device prohibited

(2) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle that is equipped with or that carries or contains a speed measuring warning device.  1996, c. 33, s. 12.

Powers of police officer

(3) A police officer may at any time, without a warrant, stop, enter and search a motor vehicle that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe is equipped with or carries or contains a speed measuring warning device contrary to subsection (2) and may seize and take away any speed measuring warning device found in or upon the motor vehicle.  1996, c. 33, s. 12.

Forfeiture of device

(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, any device seized under subsection (3) by means of which the offence was committed is forfeited to the Crown.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 79 (4).

Penalty

(5) Every person who contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 79 (5).

Exception

(6) Subsection (2) does not apply to a person who is transporting speed measuring warning devices in sealed packages in a motor vehicle from a manufacturer to a consignee.  1996, c. 33, s. 12.

Sale of speed measuring warning devices prohibited

(7) No person shall sell, offer or advertise for sale a speed measuring warning device by retail.  1996, c. 33, s. 12.

Penalty

(8) Every person who contravenes subsection (7) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $1,000; and

(b) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $5,000.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 79 (8).