Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: West end toronto
By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - Proposed Ontario legislation to limit the driving privileges of people under age 22 raised the ire Tuesday of young drivers before the bill was even tabled.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said the "modest restrictions" will include a zero blood-alcohol limit for all Ontario drivers aged 21 and under and escalating sanctions for young drivers who speed, starting with a 30-day licence suspension.
Drivers between 16 and 19 will also be limited to having only one teenage passenger in the vehicle, which McGuinty conceded will mean three 19-year-old adults could not go to a movie - or church - in the same car.
"Perhaps the most precious thing we have in society is our children, and that includes our older children," McGuinty said.
"We owe it to our kids to take the kinds of measures that ensure that they will grow up safe and sound and secure, and if that means a modest restriction on their freedoms until they reach the age of 22, then as a dad, I'm more than prepared to do that."
Many teenagers did not see the proposed restrictions as modest.
"I think it's unfair because not all of us are irresponsible so it shouldn't apply to all of us," said Alex Popescu, 17.
"I drive my friends around, I have to drive my brother to school."
Popescu said the rules would mean he wouldn't be able to bring his friend and girlfriend to a party and thinks that's age discrimination.
"I passed my test just like any other person," he said. "I did good and I think I deserve to be able to drive with anybody I want."
Studies show just one teenage passenger with a teen driver doubles the chances of an accident and that risk increases with the addition of every teenage passenger, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
But some teens say the statistics unfairly paint all young drivers with the same brush.
"They tend to blame teens a lot for the crashes," said Mason Kleps, 17.
"There are some stupid kids out there, I'm not going to lie, but... not all kids are bad and we do need to drive."
Some teens are also raising environmental concerns about the impact of limiting the number of young people per car.
"I think it's kind of unfair because a lot of kids at this age want to go a whole bunch of places and if you can't carpool anymore then what's the point?" said Keeley Lawrence, who at 14 is a few years away from being a young driver himself.
"You're going to need a whole bunch of cars and it's going to add up."
Several online Facebook groups sprung up with more than 1,000 members, hours before the legislation was even tabled Tuesday, protesting the proposed law.
Teens were posting comments suggesting the law will hamper carpooling and having designated drivers.
"How does it make sense to try and teach us about saving gas by carpooling and buying hybrids and things such as that when it is illegal for teenagers to carpool if this passes?" one person wrote.
Another wrote that the law would "encourage drunk driving!"
"We would need more cars which means more designated drivers. My friends already don't want this job!"
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said he likes the idea of new rules for younger drivers, but worries the restrictions on teenage passengers could be unworkable, especially in rural Ontario.
"We want to protect public safety and have stricter conditions under which young people can drive cars, but we have to be careful of the practicalities of living," Tory said.
"In rural Ontario sometimes if you're going to a hockey game, a movie or just going to school ... we have to be careful that we don't do things that are impractical."