Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Safety first!

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act covers a lot of detail, but neglects to state its prime objective clearly. Does Ontario regulate traffic to ensure the safe movement of people, goods and vehicles on Ontario roads, or do we regulate traffic to facilitate speedy movement? The Highway Traffic Act should clarify this, first because of the number of influential voices insisting that we have roads so that cars and trucks can move fast on them, and because those voices, coupled with the lack of clarity in the Highway Traffic Act, lead to the harassment of lower speed traffic; not only bicycles, but as anyone who does it knows, cars that actually obey the speed limit.

In aviation, the laws make a clear statement: safety comes first. The pilot has absolute responsibility for the safety of the passengers and the flight, and nothing moves until and unless everyone with a responsibility for safety agree that the flight can proceed. I strongly suggest the Highway Traffic Act should say the same thing. It won't change the attitude of the drivers who believe they have a right to push their cars to the limit on public roads, but it may affect enforcement if the rest of us can point to a law that says, without ambiguity, that our safety comes first.

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