Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney brought a familiar refrain to a luncheon celebrating the 110th anniversary of the Ontario Safety League (OSL).
“The Ministry of Transportation has worked closely with you to ensure that everyone gets home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day, and the results are clear. Ontario has some of the safest and best roads anywhere in North America,” she said. “But when it comes to road safety, all of us in this room know that the work never stops.”
The OSL itself provides an array of safety information and safety-based programs, from air brake training, to the Elmer the Safety Elephant mascot that delivers safety messages to children.
“Through partnerships and friendships like the one we have with OSL, our government will continue to respond to new safety concerns and do the necessary work to make our roads even safer,” Mulroney said.
Approximately 10.6 million licensed drivers in the province travel more than 140 billion km per year, while an average of $785 million in goods share the same roads on a given day.
Despite that traffic, the province’s motor vehicle fatality rate dropped 10% between 2010 and 2019, Mulroney said, noting that ranks Ontario as the safest jurisdiction in North America. “This occurred while the number of licensed drivers increased by nearly 15% over that same period.”
Highway safety initiatives
She highlighted initiatives such as the Moving Ontarians More Safety Act, which introduced longer licence suspensions and impoundment periods for stunt driving, street racing and aggressive driving. A new certification program was also introduced for tow truck drivers, and electronic logging devices (ELDs) have been mandated to monitor compliance with Hours of Service.
Mulroney’s remarks included a particular focus on highway safety initiatives in Northern Ontario. Contractors there are now required to clear Hwys. 11 and 17 within 12 hours of the end of a storm. “Four hours faster than the previous standard,” she said. Twenty portable variable message signs have also been added along Northern Ontario highways to deliver safety information about things like road closures as well.
“We are also undertaking the largest expansion of truck rest stops that the province has ever seen to help make life easier for … truck drivers and drivers of long distances along our roads – especially in the north,” she said.
That five-year plan includes rehabilitating 14 rest stops and creating 10 new rest stops.
There are also plans to build the province’s first “2+1″ stretch of highway on Highway 11, north of North Bay, featuring a center passing lane that changes direction every few kilometers.
“We will continue to work closely with these communities and listen and respond to their needs,” Mulroney said. “Working closely with partners like the Ontario Safety League, I know that we can achieve our common goal of improving road safety for everyone in Ontario.”