privilege

The National Post‘s Chris Selley tells the story of a woman in Toronto who by mistake drove a Mercedes SUV into a booth at Toronto’s City Place Urban Market, killing  one of two sisters in the booth. For this crime, the driver was given a $1,000 fine and a six month driving ban, but could still use the car for work and medical appointments.In another example, a driver who hit and killed a six-year-old child legally walking in a marked crosswalk. The penalty?  A two-year driving prohibition and a $2,000 fine.

A driver talking on a cellphone received only 20 days in jail and a two-year driving ban for killing a senior crossing a street on a green light. Why? Because under the Criminal Code “generally speaking, we shouldn’t be throwing people in jail for making careless mistakes, as opposed to for gross negligence or genuine intent to cause harm.”

The consequences resulting from killing by careless driving are still early twentieth century. You were inattentive, you didn’t really mean to kill the person. But in ” Ontario, the Burlington MPP and cabinet minister Eleanor McMahon tabled a private member’s bill last year that would create a new offence: “careless driving causing death or bodily harm.”McMahon’s late husband, OPP officer Greg Stobbart, died in 2006 after a driver struck him while he was cycling. The driver, Michael Duggan, had five convictions for driving with a suspended licence, four for driving uninsured, and a criminal record to boot. He had only just gotten his licence back — and only lost it again for a year.”

“People rarely feel gratified by someone who kills their loved one and walks away with a $500 fine,” says McMahon. “I want to recognize and honour that feeling of egregious resentment that people feel, that the law really … isn’t reflecting their sentiments.”

Is it time for the updating of Provincial highway and traffic acts to reflect the true  impacts of killing pedestrians and cyclists on the street? How did it happen that the maiming and murdering of innocent street users are still not reflected in the consequences? How did driving become a right?