A dented bumper could be the least of your worries the next time you skid into a snowbank. You could also get charged.
Two weeks after a mammoth snowstorm blanketed the region, causing hundreds of collisions and spinouts across the GTA, OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino outlined plans to pursue traffic laws that target motorists with a heavy foot in bad weather.
"Too many drivers still don't adjust their driving habits for the wide range of weather conditions that we experience in Ontario," Fantino said.
Sgt. Cam Woolley said a vast majority of the 27,000 motorists who lost control on highways in Ontario last year did so because of poor weather conditions. He said the accidents could have been prevented if the driver had slowed down.
Woolley said the proposed change to the Highway Traffic Act would mean drivers who get in accidents while it's raining or snowing should be prepared to explain themselves.
"And if it's just the weather, that's not good enough," he said.
He added that there is a similar traffic policy in New York state, where police can charge motorists who don't respect the weather conditions.
While Woolley said he isn't aware of all the specifics of the proposal, he said an infraction would be treated much like tailgating or an illegal lane change. The charge would be treated as less serious than careless driving.
"I think we have to be more accountable as drivers," Woolley said. "There's no accountability now except their insurance rates. This change would have a positive effect."
New York State Police Sgt. Timothy Morris has been seeing the effect for years. Much of his time on the force has been spent patrolling slippery highways. He said the law deals specifically with unsafe speed not befitting the road conditions. It's a law he's enforced a handful of times.
"It depends on each trooper, and it's up to them if it is necessary," he said. "It can include weather conditions or just general road layout."
You know it just on getting worse here .... more bad laws to cover off things already in the HTA. Fantino really has to go in my opinion anyway time to write another email to my jackass of an MPP
Commissioner Julian Fantino wants changes made to laws so that offending motorists can be charged
OPP Const. Dave Woodford, an officer with the highway safety division, agreed that the change could provide them with another tool to work with when dealing with weather-related collisions.
He said most people who get in accidents because of the weather are commuters who are paying more attention to getting home than the road.
"Anything that promotes safety of the roads will help us do our jobs," he said.
"Drivers think because they have winter tires that they are indestructible. Weather is not a reason for a collision. They are all preventable."