Fedeli Re-Introduces Bill Aimed at Curbing Distracted DrivingSeptember 23, 2016
QUEEN’S PARK – This week, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli re-introduced his Private Member’s Bill, The Safe Texting Zones Act in the Ontario Legislature to combat distracted driving through the creation of designated highway “texting zones.”
“Texting while driving poses a major risk for drivers and those they share the road with,” said Fedeli. “In fact, distracted driving deaths in Ontario have surpassed those of impaired driving for the seventh consecutive year.”
The Bill would authorize the Minister of Transportation to designate any part of the King’s Highway as a “texting zone,” defined as an area where a driver is able to park or stop safely to use a hand-held wireless communication device. It would authorize the government to designate a commuter parking lot, transit station or rest, service or other area as a texting zone and require signs be displayed at or approaching it.
Precedent was set for this in 2013, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo established texting zones at 91 locations across Thru-way and state highways in the state, utilizing existing Park-n-Ride facilities, rest stops, and parking areas.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, research shows that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than drivers who focus on the road, and when drivers take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds, the crash risk doubles.
“Designating specific texting zones would be especially helpful in reducing distracted driving on highways in rural and Northern areas where cell service can be intermittent, and there are long distances between rest stops,” Fedeli added.
Prior to the Wynne government’s decision to prorogue the Legislature, the Safe Texting Zones Act passed Second Reading with all-party support and received support from several stakeholders including the Canadian Automobile Association, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Desjardins, Aviva, and the Ontario Safety League.
“I have re-introduced this legislation because the Safe Texting Zones Act sends a clear message to drivers that there is no longer an excuse to endanger themselves and those they share the road with,” Fedeli said.