Stunt driving law has saved 4,000 Ontario lives: Study

Northumberland OPP Constable Kevin McAllister using a device to clock the speed of the drivers from...

Northumberland OPP Constable Kevin McAllister using a device to clock the speed of the drivers from a bridge overlooking Highway 401. (Pete Fisher/QMI Agency)

Norman DeBono, The London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. — More than 4,000 young men have been saved from serious injury or death since Ontario passed its tough stunt driving law seven years ago, new research suggests.

Quick and severe consequences under the so-called street-racing law have made a difference in reducing crashes and savings lives, said Evelyn Vingilis, a professor at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine.

"It supports the idea of the deterrence theory, of swift penalties," she said. "But the most important thing is more young men are going home to their families."

Ontario cracked down on street racers and aggressive drivers with the 2007 law, Bill 203, which hikes fines as high as $10,000 for drivers caught going 50 km/h or more over the speed limit.

The law also allows police to suspend an offender’s driver's licence and impound their vehicle for a week. And it packs the threat of jail time — a maximum six months.

That tough approach has filtered down to reduce injuries and deaths, saving on average 58 drivers a month, or about 700 a year, from crashes, said Vingilis.

"We looked at suspensions and convictions since the new legislation and before," she said.

The research, which was broken down by gender and age, clearly pointed to a difference among young men.

From 2007 to 2011, more than 24,000 drivers had their licences suspended for violations of the new law, including nearly 8,500 in the first year, alone.

The research pointed to a "substantial" reduction in conviction of men and boys, no change for girls and women, and a big drop in the deaths of males aged 16 to 24.

The study examined Transportation Ministry data from 2002 to 2011.

 


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