QUEBEC CITY, March 2, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - While good behaviour should be rewarded, the opposite applies to bad motoring habits such as using a cellphone while driving, failing to wear seatbelts or disregarding pedestrian lights. In addition, more needs to be done regarding alcohol or drug impairment at the wheel. CAA-Quebec says some types of behaviour are socially unacceptable and is calling for revised penalties, especially with respect to demerit points.
"Advances are obtained through legislation, awareness and also through fair and equitable law enforcement!" says Sophie Gagnon, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, at CAA-Quebec. "We must not forget this."
Distractions: Exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures!
The risks of cellphone use while driving are well known to experts. Motorists' opinions on this issue are clear: we need to tackle the problem head-on. This is why CAA-Quebec is issuing tough recommendations aimed at countering this phenomenon.
- Adopt scaled sanctions for repeat offenders, especially with respect to demerit points.
- Amend the Highway Safety Code to broaden the presumption that a driver holding a device similar to a telephone-enabled device is considered to be using a telephone-enabled device.
- Start a dialogue with the federal government on whether to criminalize cellphone use at the wheel in cases of collisions causing death or serious injury.
- Emphasize prevention and awareness activities.
"These proposals stem from the increased risk that distracted driving poses for all road users," Ms. Gagnon states. "The authorities should be given the means to penalize these types of behaviour more severely and to send a strong message."
Cannabis: Zero tolerance behind the wheel
Given the lack of conclusive data on a legal limit for cannabis (THC) in the bloodstream and the absence of easy-to-use measurement tools, CAA-Quebec urges the Quebec government to apply the precautionary principle. It recommends applying a zero tolerance policy pending establishment of a "per se" limit by the federal government.
"Surveys show the public's concern over the legalization of cannabis and its impacts on our roads," Ms. Gagnon notes. "In addition, U.S. statistics on this subject show significant declines in road safety where cannabis has been legalized. Worse yet, young people tend to trivialize the impact of consumption on road safety. The signs are clear. Action is needed now."
Alcohol-impaired driving: more needs to be done!
While CAA-Quebec regards the adoption of administrative measures for blood alcohol levels of between 50 and 80 mg/100 ml as necessary for achieving further advances in road safety, it reminds government authorities that it is their responsibility to ensure the social acceptability of this through extensive information and awareness-raising measures.
Pedestrians and cyclists: Protecting the most vulnerable
CAA-Quebec says sharing of the road by all users requires introduction of the principle of protecting the most vulnerable. Pedestrian traffic lights should therefore operate in protected mode, meaning that all vehicles should be stopped at the same time, regardless of their direction. In this way, diagonal crossing could be authorized.
"But be sure to remember that a stop remains a stop and a red light remains a red light, compulsory for everyone! Pedestrians and cyclists are required to abide by the Highway Safety Code," Ms. Gagnon states. "This is also a matter of harmonious sharing and protection of vulnerable users. And just as motorists must wear seatbelts, it would make sense that cyclists be required to wear helmets, knowing that this reduces the severity of head injuries."
Right turns on red lights
Except for downtown Montreal, CAA-Quebec favours authorizing this measure on Montreal Island.
A cost-free plan? Certainly not!
In connection with this public consultation, CAA-Quebec emphasizes a basic principle: the soundness of our public insurance plan and our road safety record depend on the sum of our individual behaviours. "With overall annual costs of $4 billion, road accidents also have a major impact on society," Ms. Gagnon concludes. "All users have a role to play in improving our road safety record, which worsened in 2015 following five years of consecutive improvements. This proves that nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to road safety."
True to form, CAA-Quebec consulted its members before taking its positions, which were developed with a view to reflecting members' opinions as closely as possible, also taking into account CAA-Quebec's road safety expertise.
See our 51 recommendations HERE (in French only).
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CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides all of its members with peace of mind by offering them high-quality automotive, travel, residential and insurance benefits, products and services. As a leading advocate for road safety at every stage of life, its actions and services in this area, include child car-seat verification clinics, a school safety patroller program, and awareness activities for seniors as well as secondary school students.
For further information: Annie Gauthier, Communications Advisor and Spokesperson, 514 861-7111, ext. 6260, Cell.: 514 717-4040, [email protected]