Up­ping the ante

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial -

It just ar­rived last Thurs­day, June 7, but many peo­ple might not be aware of it. If you’re speed­ing along the Trans-Canada High­way to­day, bliss­fully cruis­ing up over 151 kilo­me­tres an hour, you might be in for an ex­pen­sive sur­prise. You might get there a lit­tle ear­lier, or you might get an $1,800 fine, among other penal­ties.

Last De­cem­ber, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment be­gan the process of in­creas­ing a num­ber of penal­ties un­der the High­way

Traf­fic Act.

The leg­is­la­tion, which brought in new rules about such things as ex­ces­sive speed, stunt driv­ing and driv­ing with­out due care and at­ten­tion, also hiked fines sig­nif­i­cantly, with those penal­ties com­ing into ef­fect last Thurs­day.

Speak­ing on the bill last De­cem­ber, Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Par­sons pointed out, “If some­body is trav­el­ling at 51 kilo­me­tres over the speed limit, whether it’s 100 kilo­me­tres or it’s 60 kilo­me­tres, it’s way too fast . ... (This) is an­other re­ally im­por­tant part that we get out to the gen­eral pub­lic and let them know, lis­ten, we’re not tol­er­at­ing this any­more; your car can be taken from you and you could be sus­pended. You could be go­ing to jail be­cause of it, and that’s what we re­ally want to em­pha­size to the gen­eral pub­lic.”

The rule changes in­clude al­ter­ing the “Move Over” pro­vi­sions: driv­ers ap­proach­ing emer­gency ve­hi­cles stopped on the side of the road not only have to move into an ad­ja­cent lane, but the speed limit au­to­mat­i­cally drops to 30 km/h lower than the posted speed. In mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, that would mean slow­ing to just 20 km/h while pass­ing emer­gency ve­hi­cles, or face the pos­si­bil­ity of a ticket.

If you’re look­ing at your cell­phone to check your texts and cause an ac­ci­dent, you’re look­ing at a brand new of­fence. As Ser­vice NL de­scribes it, “The new penal­ties for this of­fence are: a min­i­mum fine of $2,000 and a max­i­mum fine of $20,000 or up to two years’ im­pris­on­ment, or both; li­cence sus­pen­sion of not more than five years; and six de­merit points.”

Even if you don’t cause an ac­ci­dent, you’re look­ing at an ex­pen­sive re­sult: “The amend­ments also in­crease the ex­ist­ing fines for driv­ing with­out due care and at­ten­tion or with­out rea­son­able con­sid­er­a­tion for other per­sons from $120-$480 (pre­vi­ously) to $300-$1,000.”

The truth is, all of the new rules and in­creases in fines and other penal­ties shouldn’t even have to take place.

What’s re­quired is a mod­icum of that most un­com­mon thing: com­mon sense.

If you’re driv­ing, then your first re­spon­si­bil­ity should be pay­ing at­ten­tion to the road - and the rules of the road.

Un­for­tu­nately, as any­one who drives in this prov­ince will tell you, there are plenty of peo­ple who dis­re­gard speed lim­its com­pletely and can’t re­sist the lure of that fate­ful in­com­ing text.

Let’s hope that the threat of new fines and pos­si­ble im­pris­on­ment make an im­pact with those driv­ers be­fore the ac­ci­dents they are even­tu­ally go­ing to cause.

If you’re driv­ing, then your first re­spon­si­bil­ity should be pay­ing at­ten­tion to the road and the rules of the road.

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