Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Summer is Coming & So Are the Speed Freaks

As the spring air temperatures continue to rise, leading us into the summer months, so will the speeds on our local roads and highways in what has become somewhat of a summer tradition: speeders and stunt drivers invade our roads each summer.

Motorists drive beyond the speed limit year-round of course, but the winter months, often featuring slippery ice-covered roads, seem to inhibit the speeders, if only slightly, but particularly in the summer months I receive several notices from the OPP about drivers caught speeding, sometimes at alarming speeds.

I am sometimes shocked at the speeds reported in those OPP media releases, like one I recall from last June, when a 19-year-old from Wasaga Beach was charged after driving in excess of 170 kilometres per hour in an 80 kilometre per hour zone on Highway 26 right here in Meaford. An alarming speed for anyone to be driving on any road or highway, let alone an inexperienced teenager on a two-lane highway in rural Ontario.

I’ve never been a ‘speed freak’ myself, in fact I have been teased for being too cautious a driver, but some clearly love the feeling of reaching high speeds when behind the wheel, and that thrill can come at a significant price.

Ontario has some of the stiffest penalties in all of North America for speeding, or ‘stunt driving’, when those speeds are clocked at 50 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit.

For ‘stunt driving’ a motorist can expect the immediate 14-day impounding of the vehicle they were driving at the time of the infraction – whether they own the vehicle or not. So if you are driving mom’s car, or your buddy’s pick-up truck, you will have some explaining to do. In addition to the impounding of the vehicle, a motorist faces an immediate 30-day licence suspension, a fine between $2,000 and $10,000, along with six licence demerit points upon conviction. Ontario law also provides the possibility of a six-month jail term for stunt driving. For those convicted of stunt driving, a driver’s licence can be suspended for a minimum of one year for the first conviction, and you can lose your licence for life after four convictions.

You might think, ‘Well, I speed, but not excessively, and certainly not 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit…everyone speeds right?’

While it is true that most of us have exceeded the speed limit from time to time – an extra 10 kilometres per hour, or 15 – but just because we have all done it at some point doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t make it any less costly or dangerous, if you are caught.

In Ontario, the fines you pay and the demerit points you lose if you are caught speeding can certainly hurt the wallet, and can have an impact on your insurance rates.

A driver caught speeding less than 20 kilometres over the posted speed limit will pay a fine of three dollars per kilometre over the limit, and will lose three demerit points, while a driver caught speeding between 20 and 30 kilometres over the limit will pay a fine of $4.50 per kilometre over the limit. If you are caught speeding between 30 and 50 kilometres over the limit your fine will be a whopping $7 per kilometre over the limit, and you will lose four demerit points. So if you are caught driving 90 kilometres per hour in a 50 kilometre per hour zone, your fine will be $280, and you will lose four demerit point, a hefty price to pay. And it can get worse if the officer tacks on charges for aggressive driving, an infraction that can land you in jail for up to six months, and you could lose your licence for up to two years.

As you can see, while there might be a thrill factor experienced with high speeds while behind the wheel, it can be a very costly experience if you are caught and pulled over.

According to the Ontario government’s website, the risk of a fatality or serious injury is 11 times greater in collisions at 50 kilometres per hour or more over a highway speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour. As the website notes, speeding increases the required braking and stopping distances, and it also reduces your field of vision making it harder to react quickly.

High speed motorists are a danger to all other motorists, as well as to pedestrians and cyclists. I am sure most of us have experienced a car zipping past us at an alarming speed; it can be a jolt to the system, and it can have us crossing our fingers that a police cruiser is nearby to witness the speed and pull the driver over. But often there is no officer to be found, and the speeding driver continues on their way; their luck will run out eventually however.

The risks associated with excessive speed are great, and one would think that would toss a wet towel on the speed freaks, but it doesn’t seem to as there is no shortage of media releases issued by the OPP, particularly in the summer months, informing of yet another driver caught driving insane speeds putting all around them at risk.

In today’s world, there are any number of ways to experience the thrill that one gets from driving at high speeds, in controlled environments where the general public is not put at risk, whether it be using a track for some drag racing, riding a roller coaster, or jumping out of an airplane, there a many ways to seek a thrill that might put your own safety at risk, but doesn’t force danger upon law-abiding citizens.

So, slow down this summer, there is no need to speed. That extra speed won’t get you to your destination so much more quickly that it is worth risking the safety of the community.


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