Federal Framework on Distracted Driving Act

An Act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving

Sponsor

Doug Eyolfson  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of March 21, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-373.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides for the development of a federal framework to deter and prevent distracted driving. It also sets out consultation, review and reporting requirements in relation to the framework.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 21, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-373, An Act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to an issue I care deeply about. It is great to have the privilege to speak to Bill C-373 in this place today. It is our job to work hard to make Canada a better and safer place to live. We hear all too often about the tragedies that occur because of distracted and impaired driving.

This is a debate that is important to each and every Canadian. No riding is immune to the devastation caused by distracted and impaired driving. We know that distracted driving occurs frequently in Canada.

Bill C-373 focuses on hand-held electronic devices, such as cellphones, which is an important issue. However, it is not comprehensive of all factors that go into distracted driving.

Distracted driving is not just an issue of texting behind the wheel; it is much more than that. The RCMP define distracted driving as a form of impaired driving as a driver's judgment is compromised when the driver is not fully focused on the road. This includes talking on a cellphone, texting, and reading, whether that be books, maps, or newspapers. Distracted driving also includes using a GPS, watching videos or movies, eating, drinking, smoking, and personal grooming. Even talking to passengers and driving while tired, either mentally or physically, can be forms of distracted driving.

We need to focus on the statistics here, because they are alarming.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury. Distracted driving is now the number one risk on Canadian roads, contributing to eight in 10 collisions, according to the CAA.

Further evidence according to the Government of Ontario says that one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every half hour. Even when drivers use a hands-free phone, they are less aware of the traffic around them. They tend to react more slowly to a critical event, or they may not detect the danger at all. One study highlighted that in 80% of collisions, the driver had looked away from the road three seconds prior to the crash. The take-away from all of these statistics is simple: distracted driving is a serious issue that must be addressed.

When it comes to texting and driving, there are various statistics. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared to non-distracted drivers. This study also highlighted that while driving at 90 kilometres per hour, a driver checking a text for five seconds has travelled the length of a football field without looking. A study from the National Safety Council said that about 26% of all car crashes involve phone use, including hands-free phone use. The same study estimates that drivers using phones look at but fail to see up to 50% of the material in their driving environment.

In my riding, the intersection at Highway 7 and McCowan Road was the site of 112 crashes in 2016. The government should be doing more to reduce driver fatalities in every instance, since driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses just as much, if not more, of a risk to Canadians as driving while using a cellphone.

A 2017 study conducted by MADD showed that cannabis was the leading cause of fatal drug-related crashes in eight provinces and was responsible for 530 deaths nationwide. We know drugs can affect a driver's judgment, reaction time, and decision-making skills. Canadians are not entirely aware of the risks that driving while high poses.

According to a Health Canada survey, of respondents who had consumed cannabis in 2017, 39% admitted to driving within two hours of consumption, and only 2% reported being stopped by police as a result of driving under the influence.

I would like to touch on some further statistics to highlight the issue of distracted driving.

Bill C-373 is an excellent example of the way road safety in Canada can be improved. However, why is it that the Liberals are addressing this one aspect while continuing to promote their plan to make marijuana legal without properly considering the effects it will have on drug-impaired driving occurrences? According to the RCMP, driver distraction is a factor in about four million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year. Further, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distraction was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe teen crashes. Distracted driving is dangerous and is hurting our children. The paradox I want to highlight here is that the government would like to consult with law enforcement officials to make recommendations on this issue of distracted driving but was fine ignoring the advice of law enforcement when it came to developing an effective prevention and detection strategy to deal with drug-impaired driving. Both distracted driving and impaired driving pose very real dangers and both should be taken seriously.

The Liberal government supported legislation that imposed stricter fines and penalties on drivers impaired by alcohol, yet it has failed to do so when it comes to the same risks posed by drivers impaired by cannabis. In testimony to the justice committee, Students Against Drunk Driving's community liaison Arthur Lee made the point that students told him “the general sentiment among their peer groups was that driving under the influence of marijuana was—quote—'better' than being impaired by alcohol.” How will this misconception ever change if the Liberal government constantly prioritizes road safety in every other aspect except when it comes to properly dealing with the drug it intends to legalize?

According to the Government of Canada, economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That is about 1% of Canada's GDP. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, the economic and social consequences of road crashes in Canada are estimated to be $25 billion per year, including direct and indirect costs.

Bill C-373 fails to mention or consider the territories in its text as currently written. At this time, it only makes mention of the provinces. The penalties for distracted driving vary immensely between the provinces and territories. A mixture of demerit points and cash fines is a common standard of practice to deter Canadians from committing this offence. Nunavut is the only province or territory in Canada that does not have penalties put in place as a measure to discourage distracted drivers.

From all of these statistics, we can see there is a definite need to address the concern of distracted driving. The provinces are looking for federal leadership here, and we need to take this seriously.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise tonight to speak to Bill C-373, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving. I want to thank the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for tabling the bill. I sit with the member on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. It is obviously a personal issue for him and I applaud him for taking action to solve a very preventable issue.

For our part, New Democrats support improving vehicle and road safety, and we understand and sympathize with the pain experienced by the families and friends of victims of distracted driving. We urge the federal government to provide better oversight of vehicle safety.

Indeed, the occurrence of distracted driving in our communities should be of concern to everyone. Distracted drivers not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of their passengers, other drivers and their passengers, as well as pedestrians and cyclists, among others.

I share the member's goal of making our streets safer. I sponsored Bill C-312, which would create a national cycling strategy. It is not that different from this piece of legislation. It seeks to make our roads safer for cyclists among other provisions, including side guards on trucks. We know that all users of the road need to work closely together to create more safe cycling. I mention this fact to highlight for the member that I share his commitment to make our streets and communities safer.

On Vancouver Island, where I am from, distracted driving is a huge concern in every neighbourhood and every community. Vancouver Island is no exception. In a story published just yesterday, the Parksville Qualicum Beach News reported on a crackdown on distracted driving by the RCMP in Oceanside. In that story, some statistics from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia were presented.

ICBC found that distracted driving is responsible for more than one-quarter of all car crash fatalities in British Columbia. Distracted driving is the second leading contributor of car crash fatalities in B.C. and results in 78 deaths each year, on average. Distracted driving has moved ahead of impaired driving-related fatal crashes. On average, 89 deaths occur in speed-related crashes and 66 in impaired-related crashes. Every year, on average, nine people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island. All of them could be avoided.

In another story, the Comox Valley Record reported on March 2 that the Province of B.C. and ICBC are rolling out tougher penalties for distracted drivers beginning this month. We are grateful for that. For Vancouver Island residents, it is both timely and important that we are debating this bill today to coincide with those actions.

Bill C-373 would enable the Department of Justice and Department of Transport to develop a federal framework to deter and prevent distracted driving. More specifically, the Minister of Justice would work with the Minister of Transport and provincial governments to establish a federal framework to coordinate efforts in the provinces to deter and prevent distracted driving, especially the use of telephones while driving.

The framework prescribed in Bill C-373 must cover all of the following elements: the collection of information and statistics relating to incidents that occur as a result of distracted driving involving the use of handheld electronic devices; the administration and enforcement of laws respecting such distracted driving; the creation and implementation of public education programs to deter distracted driving; the role of driver-assisted technology in reducing the number of incidents that occur as a result of distracted driving; the sharing among the provinces of best practices regarding deterrence and prevention; and recommendations regarding possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs.

It is difficult to oppose the idea of increased road safety and the reduction of distracted driving, but I do have some real concerns about this piece of legislation. While the bill is not fundamentally detrimental to road safety, there are at least three main concerns that my New Democrat colleagues and I have about the bill.

We have concerns related to federalism and jurisdictional matters between the federal and provincial governments. As well, we are concerned that such co-operation could be redundant given the significant level of co-operation currently between the federal and provincial governments through their road safety strategy 2025. Finally, we are concerned that Transport Canada is already seriously deficient in the management of vehicle safety standards and that the bill, if passed, could increase this deficiency.

With regard to our jurisdictional concerns in Canada, road safety is a shared responsibility of the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. Distracted driving, such as driving while using a cellphone, is considered a regulatory offence in the provinces and territories. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, distracted driving can also be deemed a criminal offence under section 249 of the Criminal Code if the court is convinced that an individual was driving in a manner that is dangerous to the public. As such, it is the provinces and territories that are primarily responsible for road safety legislation. New Democrats believe that they are best placed to identify priorities in this area.

On the possible redundancy, we must be reminded again that the existing goal of the road safety strategy 2025 is to standardize the improvement process across the country using best practices for specific issues. The main ones are as follows: raising public awareness and commitment to road safety; improving communication, co-operation, and collaboration among stakeholders; enhancing legislation and enforcement; improving road safety information in support of research and evaluation; improving the safety of vehicles and road infrastructure; and leveraging technology and innovation.

While the road safety strategy 2025 and Bill C-373 use different language and their scope is somewhat different, when looking at their provisions together, it is hard to imagine that the objectives of the latter would not find a good home within the work of the federal and provincial governments as they implement the former.

On our concern about the capacity of Transport Canada to effectively implement new policies, indeed Transport Canada is struggling mightily to address the concerns raised by the Auditor General in his report entitled “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety”. In that report, the Auditor General stated, “We found that the absence of long-term operational planning led to several decisions that affected research activities and other operations. [...] We also found that the operating budget for crashworthiness testing was cut by 59 percent for the 2016–17 fiscal year, from $1.2 million to $492,000.”

Since Transport Canada is already failing to show the leadership that we are calling for, in terms of cutting funding for existing safety programs, we have to wonder if it makes sense to further burden this department with additional new responsibilities.

Those are our concerns, and I would hope that they are addressed in a meaningful way when this bill reaches committee.

In closing, I want to thank the member again for tabling this proposed legislation. It is greatly appreciated. I want to reiterate that my New Democrat colleagues and I share his concern for making our streets and communities safer. In spite of some flaws, which I hope can be addressed in committee, I offer him my support for Bill C-373 at second reading. Again, it is an honour and pleasure to rise today in support of this bill.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the second reading debate of Bill C-373, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving. On the whole, I fully support the federal, provincial, and territorial work that is already being done on the very pressing issue of distracted driving.

Before I discuss the proposals in Bill C-373 in detail, I would like to acknowledge the commendable objectives and hard work on this bill, and express my gratitude to the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, who introduced this bill in the House. I am not just saying that because he is my bench neighbour. He has put in a lot of hard work and energy into this bill, and I commend him for it.

At the outset, I think it is important to recognize that distracted driving poses a serious concern and risk to road safety, and those concerns are indeed escalating. The rate of motor vehicle collisions resulting from distracted driving has accelerated over the past decade due in large part to the widespread use of smart phones and other electronic hand-held devices.

I will now discuss certain specific proposals of Bill C-373. This bill would require the Minister of Justice, in co-operation with the Minister of Transport and the provincial and territorial governments, to develop a federal framework for the implementation of measures to deter distracted driving involving the use of hand-held electronic devices.

The proposed federal framework must cover six key elements: the mandatory collection of information and statistics; the enforcement of laws; public education programs on the dangers of distracted driving; driver-assistance technologies; the sharing of best practices among the provinces; and recommendations regarding possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs.

Four of these six key elements involve the use of both federal and provincial resources. The sharing of best practices among the provinces would only involve the provinces. The bill would also require the preparation of a report setting out the federal framework. This report must be tabled within 18 months following the coming into force of the bill. Within three years of the tabling of the first report, a report resulting from a comprehensive review of the federal framework must be tabled in Parliament. This comprehensive review must be undertaken in consultation with the provinces, territories, and key stakeholders.

As I have said, the objectives of the bill are laudable, but the government is unable to support this legislative initiative for a number of reasons. First, it is the provinces and territories who are primarily responsible for measures that respond to distracted driving. Virtually all of the provinces and territories already have legislation or regulations concerning the use of electronic hand-held devices while driving. Nunavut's legislation will be coming into force later this year.

Second, the Criminal Code includes a criminal offence of dangerous driving under section 249. If a distracted driver operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, police already have the authority to lay criminal charges of dangerous driving. I would also note that in April of 2017, the government introduced Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The bill is currently being considered by the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the other place. It would reform the entire Criminal Code regime dealing with transportation offences by repealing all of the current provisions and replacing them with a modern, simplified, and coherent new part in the Criminal Code. It would also reform impaired driving laws to strengthen existing drug-impaired driving laws and create a regime that would be among the strongest in the world.

During federal, provincial, and territorial discussions leading to Bill C-46, the issue of distracted driving involving the use of an electronic hand-held device was raised. It was accepted that the current dangerous driving offence in the Criminal Code sufficiently covers distracted driving that rises to the level of creating a danger to the public and that should result in a criminal investigation and charge.

A third reason that the government is unable to support this legislative initiative is that the bill would duplicate the actions and efforts already being coordinated by the Minister of Transport and Transport Canada. The Minister of Transport presently co-leads a distracted driving working group under the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. The imposition of a new federal federal framework on top of an existing initiative is very likely to conflict in some ways and overlap in others. Provinces are likely to see federal legislation on this matter as potentially intruding in the areas of their jurisdiction and as an implied criticism or expression of concern with regard to their efforts. This may undermine federal-provincial collaboration, which already exists and is going very well.

Over the past year, the Minister of Transport has advocated for nationally consistent enforcement measures and higher sanctions for drivers who violate provincial or territorial laws by using a hand-held device while driving. Provinces and territories have been encouraged to improve their data collection and create harmonized rules across all jurisdictions. Many of those jurisdictions have responded favourably to these suggestions and have agreed to continue to discuss these matters through the federal, provincial, and territorial council of ministers responsible for transportation and highway safety.

A fourth reason that the government is unfortunately unable to support Bill C-373 is that fully implementing the proposals in this private member's bill would have cost implications for both the federal government and the provinces and territories. It would not be surprising if provinces and territories looked to the federal government for assistance in funding some of the elements of the proposed federal framework.

The government strongly supports measures to address the serious problem of distracted driving. The work of the CCMTA, which is co-led by Transport Canada, is an important demonstration of the type of federal, provincial, and territorial co-operation that exists on this issue.

Developing a federal framework would not have a greater impact on deterring distracted driving beyond what is already being done at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels. It would not significantly improve existing co-operative efforts, and indeed could duplicate processes that are under way and potentially diffuse those initiatives. For all of these reasons, the government cannot support the proposals in Bill C-373. Of course, voting against the private member's bill will ensure that existing federal, provincial, and territorial discussions will remain intact, constructive, and productive. It will allow us to continue to focus on the exceptional work that is already being done to address distracted driving.

Notwithstanding all of these comments, I want to end where I began, by commending my hon. colleague for his efforts, his energy, and for the passion that he brings to this important subject.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on Bill C-373. It is a great bill. It brings a lot of information, but as the last speaker said, it has some problems. I am going to address those a little later.

Last month I got up here and spoke to Motion No. 148, which established a National Impaired Driving Prevention Week. Impaired driving has been a Criminal Code offence in Canada since 1921. It is still a problem. It has not gone away. We still need to address it. Statistics tell us that one in five drivers involved in fatal collisions have been drinking. I even look at my own province, the province of Alberta, and between 2011 and 2015, 389 Albertans were killed and 6,000 were injured due to driving with alcohol.

Impaired driving is still a problem, whether it be alcohol, drugs, or a cellphone. Motion No. 148 received unanimous support in the House, and I want to thank all the members for that because it was an important motion.

Today, Bill C-373 focuses on distractions. The number of deaths are equally close to those of impaired driving by alcohol. In fact, there are a number of provinces, including Ontario and B.C., where distracted driving now outnumbers the fatal collisions caused by impaired driving. That is not good. That is bad.

Drivers who text are 23% more likely to have an accident than those who do not. I remember last year a police officer from Vancouver pulled over a driver, and he shared a photo of the distracted driver that went viral across Canada and North America. As the officer approached the pulled over vehicle, he saw the driver had attached his phone to his steering wheel with a piece of string. Then he went through all the trouble to wedge his tablet between the wheel and the phone. He even had his headphones stuck on his head plugged into the phone, and was driving with them. It is a wonder he ever even noticed the policeman trying to pull him over, and it took quite a while to get that done. That is ridiculous. It is almost criminal when we think about how stupid people can be.

I am going to speak a little about my earlier days as a police officer, because I think I can add a few stories that will bring a little understanding to the situation we have here. It is not new, folks. It has been there for a long time. One day I was driving down the road and it was snowing outside. It was slushy and it was early in the morning. I was going just under the speed limit because it just was not quite safe to go that fast. I saw this guy going by me, and I was quite surprised. I looked out the window, and there he was driving down the road with one hand on the wheel of the car and one hand on a razor, shaving himself at six o'clock in the morning while driving down a slushy, wet, slippery highway.

I remember once driving and following a lady who was kind of weaving a little bit. I could see her keep looking over at the mirror. I pulled her over. She was putting makeup on as she was driving down the road. Another time I was driving down the highway and I swore I had an impaired driver in front of me. He was weaving to the right, weaving to the left, and I could see his head bobbing up and down. I thought, what the heck? I thought I had an impaired driver, so I followed him long enough to get the evidence and then I pulled him over. Yes, he was driving impaired. He had a book on the steering wheel of his car and he was reading as he was driving down the highway. Now, the last two definitely got tickets for it.

Today, cellphones are a big problem, driving and texting a bigger problem, and even talking through a Bluetooth system is dangerous. I will try to clarify that a little. As I said earlier, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or a near miss. The statistics are out there. Whether texting or even talking, a person can fail to see 50% of the information in front of them because their mind is thinking about what they are talking about or what they are texting. Fifty per cent of what that person is driving toward is being missed.

It has been said that trying to text and drive is like driving blindfolded down the length of a football field, which is 110 yards, yet people continue to do it. Every day we see them going down the road. They are texting and they are driving. They are putting their lives and others at risk. Even talking as a person drives poses a risk. We do not believe it does because we think that the Bluetooth is a safe addition to our car. However, people are not paying full attention. As I mentioned earlier, a person misses stuff in front of them.

The technology we have today is great. Most of us have Bluetooth technology in our vehicles. Evidence shows that even talking, connecting, or disconnecting from a wireless phone system distracts the driver for 27 seconds. They calculated that out. They figured that out. They watched people driving around. Twenty-seven seconds at 40 kilometres an hour is like driving down the length of three football fields. That is getting close to 1,000 feet. That is a pretty long distance to be distracted.

Just think about it. All of us have freeways in our constituencies. It might be 110, but everybody drives about 120. That is about the average on the freeways in Canada. Thus, 120 is three times faster than 40 kilometres an hour and getting close to 3,000 feet. That is half a mile that a person has missed. A lot can happen in half a mile.

It becomes scary when we start putting the math to it and the statistical data that is out there. Recent stats, according to Statistics Canada, indicate that distracted driving plays a role in 23% of fatal accidents and 20% of those with injuries. The numbers are continuing to rise.

This bill focuses on handheld electronic devices, but this is where I think the bill kind of failed a little bit. I think we could have gone further. As I mentioned earlier, distraction comes in many forms. I just want to read what we, in the RCMP, had as a quote. It said that this is “a form of impaired driving as a driver's judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road”. That is what I am talking about. It continued, “Distracted driving qualifies as talking on a cell phone, texting, reading...using a GPS, watching videos or movies, eating/drinking, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music.” Hey, we all do it quite a bit. “Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued...can be forms of distracted driving.”

This bill focuses on handheld electronic devices but distractions come in many forms. In the RCMP, as I mentioned before, distractions like people shaving or putting on makeup are a problem. It is happening today. However, there are other distractions such as other people in the vehicle who are talking, arguing, or playing loud music. That takes our attention away from driving. That is distracted driving. As well, people have a fondness for pets. We have all taken our pets and put them on the seats of our vehicles as we drive. We pet them and look at them, and pet them again. Those are all forms of distracted driving and I believe that Bill C-373 was trying to reach them. I think that we need to look at it, but maybe we should expand it.

One concern I have is that I do not understand why the territories are excluded from this bill. Maybe I missed this, but it only mentions the provinces. However, statistics show that since 2006 the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have a high percentage of drivers using cellphones.

One thing I like about Bill C-373, and I think it is very important, is that it proposes a national framework on distracted driving. It would improve the collection of information and statistics. This is so vital. When I was looking up the research here, there was not enough for all the problems that I know are out there.

To make this bill work, we need collaboration between lawmakers, enforcement agencies, citizens, provinces, and industries. Therefore, we all need to work together to eliminate distracted driving. Bill C-373 is a necessary piece of legislation, but I am not sure if we can enact it when I look at all of the legal ramifications.

I would like to thank the member for bringing this bill forward. I think it is very worthy of having a good debate and discussion in the House.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House to provide the closing statement on my bill, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving. I want to thank all of my colleagues who stood here today and provided thoughtful and fruitful debate.

The last time I spoke to my bill in the House I shared the stories of Amutha and Senhit, who both had their lives taken away by the driver of another vehicle who was distracted by her cellphone and drove through a red light. Sadly, this story is not unique. The loss of a loved one by a distracted driver is an experience shared by families from coast to coast to coast.

Between the first hour of debate when I shared this story and today, more families in Canada have been added to a growing anthology of grief and sadness. Right now, statistics show that people are more likely to be the victims of a distracted driver than a drunk driver.

In my home province of Manitoba, last year was one of the safest for drivers since 1982, with a 32% decrease in fatalities from 2016. While this is a significant improvement, that statistic still represents 73 fatalities in 65 collisions. While a full analysis of the collisions is still under review, Manitoba Public Insurance has stated that distracted driving continues to be a primary contributing factor in fatal collisions.

It is time to address this issue.

Just as we were able to address drunk driving by changing federal and provincial legislation, by providing law enforcement with the necessary resources and tools, and educating Canadians on the dangers of drinking and driving, it is time to seriously address distracted driving.

My bill calls upon the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Transport to work with their provincial counterparts to develop a framework with six provisions on the collection of information; the administration and enforcement of laws respecting distracted driving; the creation and implementation of public education programs; the role of driver-assistance technology; the sharing of best practices among jurisdictions; and recommendations regarding possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs. When combined in a national framework, these can lead to common measures that will help curb distracted driving. This would be an opportunity for the federal government and the provinces, in the spirit of co-operative federalism, to expand the good work they have done together.

If a framework to prevent distracted driving can lead us to solutions to get people to not pick up their cellphones, can provide provinces with the right information, can provide law enforcement with the right tools and practices, can change technology in vehicles, and can save lives, then I have done my duty for my constituents and so has everyone in this chamber.

In my time in the emergency room I have set too many bones, I have patched too many wounds, and I have stopped too many people from bleeding out to not speak out. I have watched too many die. While I am no longer in the emergency room helping to treat victims of collisions and distracted drivers, I am here in the House to work with my colleagues and to the best of my ability to stop people from being victims at all.

Whereas I am aware of the government's reservations about this legislation, I am committed, if the bill passes, to making significant amendments to it in committee in order to address these concerns. I call upon the support of all of my colleagues to help me pass this legislation and save lives.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

moved that Bill C-373, An Act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand before my colleagues to debate my Bill C-373, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving.

Before I go into the detail about my bill, I want to take a moment to share a personal story. Amutha was the 17-year-old sister of a friend. In 2010, Amutha went to a Halloween party. That night, after the festivities wound down, she got into a Pontiac Sunfire with four other friends to go home. They were all responsible that night. They did not drink, and they made sure they had a designated driver to take them home safely.

Across the city, a young woman got behind the wheel of a Chevy Cavalier. At 2:55 in the morning, the driver of that Cavalier drove through a red light at the intersection of St. Mary's Road and Bishop Grandin Boulevard, and collided with the Pontiac Sunfire that Amutha and her friends were travelling in.

The driver of the Cavalier was speeding, had been drinking, and at the moment of impact was texting. Amutha, and Senhit, a friend of hers, died almost immediately, and two other passengers sustained life-altering injuries.

This event forever changed the lives of the families and friends of those five people who were in that car on that fateful night. I share this story because today we are going to be debating and discussing ideas, concepts, and statistics. I do not want Amutha, Senhit and their friends to be just more statistics. They had hopes and dreams. They had aspirations about what they could do in their lives, and their presence brought joy to their families and friends.

It would be a disservice to them and to their families if we lost sight of that.

Sadly, this story is not unique. It is an experience that many families share. During my time in the emergency room, I provided care to patients who, through no fault of their own, were victims of distracted driving. Tragically, some of these patients died as a result of their injuries. When I tell the House that last year 29 people died as a result of distracted driving in my home province of Manitoba, I want members to remember that the number 29 is not just a statistic and not just a number, it represents the families who will never see their loved ones again, the lives who suddenly stopped aspiring to help make our communities a better place, and the sons and daughters who will not have a parental figure to guide them through life.

While we have made great strides in changing dangerous behaviours like impaired driving and speeding, work still needs to be done on distracted driving. This is why I introduced this bill, and this is why I stand here before the House today.

Today we have the opportunity for the federal government to take a lead and address this issue. This bill calls upon the Minister of Justice, in collaboration with the Minister of Transport to work with the provincial and territorial governments to develop a federal framework to coordinate and promote efforts to deter and prevent distracted driving involving the use of hand-held electronic devices.

The framework would include six provisions on the following: the collection of information relating to incidents involving the use of hand-held electronic devices; the administration and enforcement of laws respecting distracted driving; the creation and implementation of public education programs; the role of driver-assistance technology in reducing the number collisions and fatalities; the sharing of best practices among jurisdictions; and, recommendations regarding possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs.

In order to fully understand and properly address this issue, we need to have the correct information to properly measure the effectiveness of any measures that are introduced. At the moment, we do not have that.

A report prepared on request by the Library of Parliament states:

There are several data limitations related to the compilation of statistics on the number of collisions and fatalities associated with distracted driving in Canada. In particular, there is neither a uniform definition of distracted driving nor a uniform data collection survey that is used across jurisdictions that would provide comparable cross-jurisdictional data.

Additionally, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada states:

While many jurisdictions have sought to improve data that are collected in relation to this important issue in recent years, at present it is limited for a variety of reasons.

First, the role of distraction in crashes is difficult to determine at roadside since drivers are unlikely to admit to engaging in distracted behaviours behind the wheel, particularly in the event of a crash. Without direct observation by police or reports from witnesses, or rare conditions being present, such as a phone in hand, distraction may not be recorded as a factor.

Second, while some distraction data are collected, it is often not possible to analyze these data in terms of individual or specific distraction-related factors simply because of the breadth of factors that may play a role.

Finally, data comparisons across jurisdictions is also difficult as each may utilize a slightly different definition of distraction (perhaps in accordance with legislation), collect different levels of detail, categorize distractions using different groupings, or have different types of charges that police may apply based on the Highway Traffic Act.

The report concludes:

To date, measures of distraction or effectiveness of strategies are fairly limited and not comparable across jurisdictions. Often measures are process-oriented, and outcome measures such as crashes cannot be directly linked to results of specific initiatives in order to gauge effectiveness.

A federal framework can help create a means for cross-jurisdictional data collection with uniform definitions on distracted driving and can be an important tool in measuring the effectiveness of current provincial and territorial legislation and programs.

One of the criticisms I have heard regarding this legislation is that using a hand-held communication or electronic device while driving is already illegal. This statement is true, in most of Canada. In Nunavut, there is no law prohibiting the use of a hand-held electronic device while driving. There is legislation prohibiting careless driving, but none specifically addressing this issue.

Additionally, there is a range of penalties across Canada with varying degrees of severity between jurisdictions. A federal framework can help jurisdictions create a degree of consistency, but most important, a federal framework can determine the effectiveness of the administration and enforcement of these laws. The World Health Organization, in its 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety, stated:

To date, there is little information on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce mobile phone use while driving. As a result, a number of countries are following an approach that has been known to be successful in addressing other key risk factors for road traffic injuries. Legislation prohibiting the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving exists in 138 countries, and a further 31 countries prohibit both hand-held and hands-free phones. However, due perhaps to difficulties enforcing this legislation, there remains little evidence of the effectiveness of such measures: in the Netherlands, mobile phone use has been banned since 2002 but there is mixed evidence about the impact of this measure.

The health and safety of Canadians is of the utmost importance to all levels of government in Canada and if the laws that are in place are not properly protecting Canadians, then we need leadership at the federal level to address this issue. I would like to reinforce that the bill does not make any activity illegal. It asks the federal government to take a leadership role in ensuring the efficacy of our country's laws.

Informing the public of the dangers associated with distracted driving is paramount to reducing incidents of collisions and fatalities. Just like with impaired driving, people need to be informed of the serious consequences of their actions if they take their eyes off the road to check a message or send a text.

I bring up impaired driving because this is a similar behaviour that we have been able to change because of education and awareness campaigns. It was not too long ago that the words, “one more for the road”, could be heard at a party or a bar before someone left for the night. Right now, it is socially unacceptable for someone to encourage another person to have another drink before they get into a car, and I am certain that there are members here today who have stopped someone from getting behind the wheel if the the person has had too much to drink.

We need to treat distracted driving as though it were the new drunk driving. We can do that by changing behaviours and educating Canadians.

According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation's report on distracted driving in Canada, there have been examples of successful campaigns involving multiple levels of governments with law enforcement and stakeholder participation that have been able to reach a wide audience. However, there were limitations. The report states, “it was also recognized that more active methods of engagement in terms of emotional appeals, social norming, and tailored messages to specific audiences were needed.”

Additionally, there are still troubling behaviours in drivers. For example, according to the Canadian Automobile Association, 69% of Canadians think it is unacceptable to text at a red light, but 33% still admit to doing it.

A federal framework can help establish parameters for what is needed to implement a successful awareness and education campaign from coast to coast to coast.

The issue of distracted driving involving the use of hand-held communication devices is a result of new technologies. There will always be new advances, but now comes the opportunity to determine if these new technologies can be adapted to reduce the number of collisions and fatalities.

Transport Canada's report, “Transportation in Canada 2011, Comprehensive Review”, states:

Transport Canada has an ongoing driver distraction research program to better understand the safety implications of new technologies and to identify distraction countermeasures.

I am glad this ministry is treating this seriously. Measures are being considered for special features; for example, a phone app that would divert calls to an inbox while driving above 10 kilometres an hour. However, it would be important to determine what recommendations can be gathered from stakeholders and the provinces for a federal framework.

Additionally, the Manitoba provincial road safety committee announced a road safety plan, with strategic recommendations that included considering the need for a coordinated approach and legislative amendments to guide the use of autonomous vehicle technologies as a measure to reduce traffic collisions as a result of distracted driving.

The same report also recommended collaborating with other provincial, municipal, and territorial partners on road safety research initiatives, including comprehensive data collection and consistency. This recommendation aims to strengthen consistency and consensus for data collection, address potential data gaps, and enable better interjurisdictional data comparison and evaluation. This is why I have also included in my bill a provision for a federal framework to include the sharing of best practices among jurisdictions.

Addressing distracted driving is not a partisan issue, it is a Canadian issue, and one that has undoubtedly impacted all of us here in this House in one way or another. As a runner and motorcyclist, I have lost count of the close calls I myself have had with distracted drivers. In fact, only one week ago, within an hour of discussing this bill with my colleagues, I was about to cross the street in front of Parliament when a white SUV ran a red light, nearly hitting me. The driver was oblivious that he ran a red light because he was deep in conversation with someone on his mobile phone.

There is a pressing need for a response and a leadership role to be taken by the federal government. This is why I am asking for support on all sides. If a framework to prevent distracted driving can save one life, then we would have done our duty for Canadians.

I look forward to the questions from my colleagues and for a fruitful and thoughtful debate on this issue.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his comments. I have had the pleasure of working with him on the veterans affairs committee for the last two years. He and I have had many conversations about his role as an emergency doctor. He has been on the front lines and has seen some of the devastating effects that happen, so I truly appreciate his honourable intention here.

As he is aware, I was a victim of a hit and run. The reality is that the person was distracted because he was drugged and impaired, as well as other things. We see that there are many ways people can be impaired as they drive their vehicles. I am wondering if the hon. member could comment a bit more on not only people driving while on their cellphones but also other issues that may be important that people need to be aware of, as well as the need to educate Canadians about the issues of distracted driving.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his kind words and his excellent question. I would agree there are many forms of distracted driving. This is merely one of them. It would take too long to enumerate all the different forms. There are people who are looking at their instrument consoles and changing radio stations. We have all probably seen people putting on makeup or combing their hair, or in one case, I saw someone shaving behind the wheel.

The member is right that we need to educate the public on all sorts of distracted driving. However, the bill is needed because new technology has taken off very quickly over the last few years. We have reached a point globally where more people have mobile phones on earth than do not. That factor has led to a sharp increase in the amount of distracted driving. I have identified this as a factor that we could perhaps intervene in to prevent further injuries and fatalities.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that unlike my colleague, I will still be sporting a beard tomorrow. You will be able to recognize me quite easily.

All levity aside, if there is one thing I agree with respect to the introduction of my colleague's bill is that there is no room for partisanship when it comes to a topic as important as this. I think that the discussions that we will have in the House on how to proceed with this bill will be very enlightening. I will have the pleasure of speaking to this bill in a few minutes.

Motor vehicle safety is an area of shared jurisdiction. Everything having to do with regulations falls to the provinces. I am not saying that collaboration is impossible, far from it, but the only things the federal government has control over are those aspects of motor vehicle safety under Transport Canada's responsibility, and the Criminal Code, which could be reviewed by the House.

I would like someone to briefly show me the differences between this bill and its objectives and the work currently being done by the CCMTA, which in 2016, if memory serves me correctly, created the road safety strategy 2025, a strategy that has exactly the same approach to distracted driving, if I am not mistaken.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, this would complement that work. One of the things we have noticed is that there is very little data collection. That is one of the key parts of this bill. Right now, the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario are the only provinces collecting detailed data on this issue. This would help to complement the measure the hon. member is speaking of to further address this problem and increase road safety.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-373, introduced by the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley. It that aims to deal with the important national issue of distracted driving. It proposes to deal with that issue by requiring the Minister of Justice, in collaboration with the Minister of Transport, to establish a framework around distracted driving in conjunction with the provinces, territories, law enforcement, and other stakeholders.

There is no question that distracted driving is a serious issue and extremely dangerous. Indeed, a study from Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute cited by the Canadian Automobile Association reports that a motorist who is on their cellphone is four times more likely to be involved in a collision. Even more alarming, a motorist who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision. The same study from Virginia Tech reports that a distracted driver, on average, will be unable to observe 50% of the information in their driving environment.

It is no wonder that each day in Canada there are dozens and dozens of collisions as a result of distracted driving. I saw recent statistics from ICBC showing that 27% of collisions in the province of British Columbia are attributable to distracted driving. Ontario police statistics show that there are more collisions arising from distracted than speeding and impaired driving combined. Many of those collisions are fatal. Just this year, in the province of Ontario, more than 50 people have lost their lives as a result of distracted driving.

Despite the collisions, the injuries, and the deaths on our roads, the fact is that far too many Canadians choose every day to get behind the wheel and engage in an activity that impairs their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Distracted driving is a commonplace everyday occurrence on our roads. That fact is borne out by the statistics.

I was looking at some of the statistics in my province of Alberta, I believe from 2014 or 2015, that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30,000 motorists were convicted of distracted driving offences in one year. In the province of Quebec, I read that in 2012 somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60,000 or 65,000 motorists who were convicted of distracted driving offences.

If we look at the statistics, there seems to be an increase in the number of convictions across the board in various provinces. I guess one could say that is a good thing, to the degree that it is a result of new laws that have been passed at the provincial level, and of increased enforcement efforts.

Nonetheless, I point to 30,000 and 60,000 to say that if that is the number of people who are being convicted of distracted driving offences, I would suggest that those numbers barely scratch the surface of the number of people who, each and every day, are getting behind the wheel and engaging in an activity that distracts from their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

What we have is truly a national issue and a national problem. It is a problem that exists in each and every province and territory, yet today what we have is a patchwork from province to province and territory to territory, a patchwork in terms of laws, penalties, enforcement, public awareness efforts, and data collection and statistics. What is lacking is a truly national, coordinated approach to tackling this very serious issue of distracted driving.

With regard to the serious issue of distracted driving and the very real and serious costs, both the human costs and the financial costs, I believe the time has come to have a truly national conversation on the issue of distracted driving. It would be a national conversation that would involve the federal government, the provinces and territories, law enforcement, and stakeholders, with the goal of better coordinating, on a national level, issues around laws, enforcement, penalties, public safety awareness efforts, and the coordination and collection of data, among other things.

Given that I believe that it is time to have a national conversation, I believe that Bill C-373, on its face, moves in that direction. The framework proposed in Bill C-373 would tackle those issues and other issues. I commend the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for the timeliness of bringing this bill forward. I think it is a meritorious bill, one that is worthy of further study and review. To ensure that the study and review of what I think is a good idea happens at committee, I would urge members to pass Bill C-373 at this stage.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, if my speaking time were not so short, I would start with a moment of silence for all those who have been killed or left permanently disabled by distracted driving, even though those drivers probably felt perfectly safe right up until the accident happened.

Everyone has a cellphone these days, and studies show that we check our precious phones dozens or even hundreds of times a day. I do not mean to preach or lecture anyone, but how many times have we felt tempted or given in to temptation and checked our texts at the wheel, thinking it was perfectly safe because we were stopped at a red light or driving on an empty highway?

Highway 417, which I take every week, is an example of a place that can sometimes make a driver think that nothing can go wrong because there are no other cars on the road. However, if we can pose a danger to others, we can also pose a danger to ourselves. The problem deserves our attention.

I have a lot of questions about the subject of the bill, and I feel I have to emphasize how important this is in light of the back story shared by the sponsoring member, who has personally lost loved ones to distracted driving. I know we have to take this issue very seriously, and the member has my deepest sympathy under the circumstances. However, considering the problem caused by alcoholism that we have been fighting for decades, it seems unlikely that we are going to find a miracle solution that will eliminate this problem from one day to the next.

We need to come up with a whole bunch of ways to make everyone who owns a cell phone—not just young people, but people like me, too—aware of the problem. Awareness is absolutely key. As I said earlier, the federal government's scope for action is fairly limited. Over the years, more and more people have gotten the message from awareness campaigns that drinking and driving is criminal. That message has sunk in for all of us, and I hope it has not only sunk in but also helped us change our behaviours.

That is presently not the case for all new cellular technologies. Since the technology is evolving so quickly, I hope that the next stage in automobile technology will resolve some problems such as alcohol-impaired and distracted driving. Perhaps one day we will be passengers in a self-driving car, and we will be able to read our emails and work because the car will do the driving. However, we are not there yet. Although this technology appears to be well on its way, it is not going to be here tomorrow.

This is a private member's bill and I do not want to be partisan. However, I find it difficult to watch a member rise to introduce his bill on such an important issue when his own government, which is the government of all Canadians, is making decisions that I really wonder about. We know that between 2015 and 2017, federal-provincial transfers for road safety were cut by 21%. There should be a degree of consistency in the government's actions if it wants to be seen by the public as consistent and credible and if it wants to make sure that its message is being heard.

Studying distracted driving is very important, but I cannot help thinking about the fact that the government is legalizing cannabis, effective July 1, even though police services still do not have the means to test the consumption of this substance. We have a very reliable means of testing alcohol consumption, and yet we have not managed to completely eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.

As we reflect as open-mindedly as possible on measures to put in place, I ask the member's government to help us out by bringing in consistent measures. I am not saying that we need to reconsider legalizing cannabis, but perhaps we should wait until we have the proper tools in place. Maybe the government needs to provide the funding required to ensure that the bill's objectives can be achieved in real life.

As I said, our jurisdictions are shared. Anything that has to do with motor vehicle safety regulation falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. We just saw that this week. The Government of Quebec, which is also aware of this problem and cares about the lives of Quebeckers, is going to introduce new measures to review some of the rules, including the possibility of tripling the fines given to people who are caught texting behind the wheel. It is great that all levels of government are well aware of this problem, and I think they truly do wish to collaborate without encroaching on each other's jurisdictions.

What Ottawa can do is take action through the Criminal Code, so the question we must all ask ourselves and reflect on together is this: at what point does distracted driving become a criminal act that should be covered in the Criminal Code? My colleague shared some excellent examples. Everyone is talking about the cellphone, but we have all seen someone look in the mirror while putting on makeup or combing their hair. People engage in all kinds of distracting behaviours that can all have the same tragic outcome.

We also need to ask why the Government of Canada is cutting Transport Canada funding for vehicle safety measures. We all do our best to avoid collisions, but when they happen, we have to be sure the vehicles we are driving are as safe as possible. In recent years, there has been a noticeable decrease in crash test funding. That is squarely in our wheelhouse, and we have the means to take action on it even though the government is clearly not doing so right now.

I would also like to say a few words about the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. In 2016, the council adopted the road safety strategy 2025. I would like to provide an overview of what the council is proposing because I am concerned about this issue. How will the intent of the bill translate into real action after it is passed? The committee's main job will be to figure that out. I will say right now that I will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading, because I think it is important to send the bill to committee so that we can find meaningful ways of solving the problems that have been raised.

The road safety strategy 2025 seeks to streamline the improvement process across the country through the use of best practices on some specific issues. Here are a few examples: raising public awareness and commitment to road safety; improving communication, co-operation, and collaboration among all stakeholders; enhancing the legislation, regulations, and enforcement; improving road safety information; and supporting research and evaluation. There are others, but I am running out of time.

All of that work is already being done by the council, which brings together representatives from the public sector and from all of the provincial and territorial governments. We must therefore ensure that this bill does something more and that it does not just duplicate work that has already been done. I repeat that we are looking for efficiencies.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that I will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading so that we can examine it as thoroughly as possible. I hope that this bill will have a real impact once it is passed.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak to Bill C-373, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving.

Canadians across the country use the road transportation network every day. They travel to work, attend social events, take their kids to school and hockey practice. At the same time, motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death, injuries, and hospital admissions in Canada. For example, in 2015, 1,858 Canadians were killed and 161,000 Canadians were injured in motor vehicle collisions. In addition to these personal tragedies for families, motor vehicle collisions cost the Canadian economy and the health care system an estimated $36 billion per year.

I am pleased to say that in Canada, road traffic collisions have substantially declined over the past three decades. To illustrate, between 1980 and 2015, the number of road collisions involving an injury or fatality decreased by 36%. This trend has occurred despite significant increases in the number of licensed drivers, in the number of registered vehicles, and the total kilometres driven by Canadians.

Canadians are also more likely to survive a motor vehicle collision. Between 1980 and 2015, the overall number of persons fatally injured decreased by more than 60%. These decreases are the result of several positive changes, such as improved highway and vehicle design. Of significant importance is the dramatic change in public opinion recognizing that collisions are preventable and that drivers must make safer choices, such as using seatbelts and avoiding risks associated with speeding, distractions, and fatigue.

At the same time as these positive trends have been happening, we are also facing new and evolving challenges. For example, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a growing concern, which is being addressed by my hon. colleague, the Minister of Justice, through Bill C-46. Currently before the Senate, the bill would help address the issue of alcohol and drug-impaired driving while protecting the right of the accused to a fair and impartial hearing.

Recent increases in tragic accidents involving distracted driving have garnered the attention of all levels of government and of the Canadian public. Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task that requires the full attention of the driver at all times. Research has shown that drivers who are distracted do not fully scan the environment looking for potential issues, are slow to identify risks, and then they are slow to react appropriately.

In the last five years, a reported 20% of motor vehicle accident fatalities occurred in collisions where one of the drivers had been distracted or inattentive. Over the same period, 33% of reported motor vehicle injuries occurred in collisions where distraction or inattentiveness was found to be a contributing cause of the crash.

The issue of distracted driving is evolving with the pace of technology or faster. For example, smartphones are increasingly popular. Vehicles have also become more sophisticated, providing drivers with real time data from driver assistance programs, other vehicles, and the surrounding infrastructure. In short, life is moving at a faster pace and placing greater demands on our attention, including when we are driving.

This is why the Minister of Transport wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts last winter to seek nationally consistent enforcement measures and penalties to combat the rapidly rising rate of accidents involving distracted drivers.

In Canada, as my hon. colleague mentioned, road safety is a shared responsibility among federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions, and any actions taken to curb distracted driving cannot be taken in isolation solely by the federal government. Jurisdictions need to work together within their scope of authority to improve road safety in Canada.

Transport Canada is responsible for safety standards for new and imported vehicles, new tires, and child restraints. Justice Canada is responsible for the Criminal Code of Canada in dealing with impaired and dangerous operation of motor vehicles. Provinces and territories are responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration, and the highway traffic acts, which include laws regarding distracted driving as well as the administration of justice.

To deliver a coordinated approach, the federal government works closely with its provincial and territorial counterparts through the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety and its associated organizations, including the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. Collectively, we have developed and implemented a number of road safety initiatives that have contributed to significant reductions in deaths and fatalities.

For example, Canada's newest safety plan is Canada's road safety strategy 2025, “Towards Zero: the safest roads in the world”. It was launched by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in January 2016. It builds on previous accomplishments by raising public awareness of road safety issues; improving communication, co-operation, and collaboration among road safety agencies; enhancing enforcement measures; and improving national road safety data quality and collection. The strategy outlines various measures over a 10-year timeframe to support our vision of moving toward zero deaths and injuries. Road safety strategy 2025 contains a number of promising and proven counter-measures related to distracted driving. For example, education and awareness measures are being used to change public attitudes toward distracted driving. Such change has happened before. With alcohol-impaired driving for example, what was once a common and acceptable behaviour has now become far less common and is socially unacceptable, and our roads are safer because of it.

Governments are also working together to identify international best practices to address distracted driving. At the same time, Transport Canada is working with the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders to develop guidelines related to in-vehicle displays. This initiative responds to a Transportation Safety Board Canada recommendation. Transport Canada also co-chairs a federal-provincial-territorial working group on distracted driving with British Columbia. Among the various initiatives that have been taken on by this working group, Transport Canada officials are working every day with their provincial and territorial counterparts to assess the implementation of new vehicle technologies that could mitigate the risks and impacts of distracted driving.

In addition, Transport Canada is leading a working group with provinces and territories to improve statistics related to how frequently mobile devices are involved in distracted-driving collisions. The federal government needs to continue to work closely with the provinces and territories on distracted-driving initiatives. Our best successes have occurred when we have worked collaboratively, working together to support policy development, new programs, and efficient and effective enforcement. These initiatives will help Canada change public attitudes toward distracted driving and ensure that more Canadians will get where they are going safely.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to give my maiden speech and will be addressing Bill C-373.

To start off, I would like to thank my family for standing behind me with love and support as I underwent the six month campaign to be the next member of Parliament for Sturgeon River—Parkland. I would like to mention my mother, Rebecca Hyde, and my stepfather Doug Macheniak. I would also like to mention my maternal grandparents, Cindy Lou and Graham Hyde, who always stood behind me. I would also like to mention my aunt and uncle, Mark and Melissa Harsma, who are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this week.

Campaigns are not successful unless we have a team behind us. We can have a leader, we can have a member of Parliament, or someone who wants to be one, but without the right people standing with us, we can never get to where we want to go.

I would like to thank a few key players from my campaign team, my extended family, as it were. I would like to thank Murray and Susie Houlak of Stoney Plain for their strong support of me. I would like to thank Fran and Andrew Wolthiness, Tim and Julie Milligan, Bill and Deeny Prinze. Deeny just received her Canadian citizenship two years ago. She moved here from Holland at the age of 4. She raised her family on a farm outside Edmonton. Deeny is a proud Canadian all the way.

I would like to thank my campaign manager Phil Jouanyou, who came out in the final days of my nomination and stayed on to run my campaign. He did an excellent job getting us strong 78% voter support for the Conservatives in Sturgeon River—Parkland.

I would not have run if I did not have the support of my mentors, the member for Abbotsford, the former minister of international trade, whom I had the pleasure and honour of working for for two years; and the member of Parliament for St. Albert—Edmonton, who also strongly supported me and urged me to run in the campaign. I would also like to thank the former member of Parliament for St. Albert—Edmonton, John Williams, for being a strong mentor to me and supporting me throughout this campaign.

I would also like to thank some other members: Imelda McLaren, for serving as my volunteer coordinator, and Scott Merrifield and Andrew Bankovitch, who helped put up the signs that were needed to win the campaign.

I would also like to thank a dear mentor of mine Yvonne Brochou, a legend of Spruce Grove, who was a warhorse in the days of Don Getty in Alberta and was there for me to provide the sage advice that is necessary to win a campaign.

Finally, I would like to tell the House a short story about how I ran for office. I was interested in running for the seat of Sturgeon River—Parkland, but I did not know when the previous member would resign her seat. Unfortunately, I was on a military exercise in Gagetown, New Brunswick, and did not have access to a phone for two weeks. I finally snuck it out inside a sleeping bag at 4 a.m. on July 13. I remember that day very well. I saw a tweet that the previous member for Sturgeon River—Parkland had indeed resigned.

The next morning I talked to my warrant officer, whom I would like to recognize today, Matt Christenson. I told him I wanted to run to be a member of Parliament, and to his credit, he took me completely seriously and put it up the chain of command. I had the complete support of my commanding officer, my corp staff Captain Hugh Purdon, my commanding officer here with the Governor General's Foot Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Lynham and my mentor Major Gray Shanahan. Without that moral support, I do not think I could have done it.

With that, I would like to start my remarks on the bill in question.

Far too often in the news we hear about another incident or fatality because a driver made a terrible decision to reach for a phone or other device instead of focusing on the road. Distracted driving is a serious problem in my riding and across Canada. The RCMP identifies distracted driving as “a form of impaired driving as a driver's judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road.” Talking on the phone, texting, reading, watching videos, and driver fatigue can all be forms of distracted driving.

Discussion of this topic is particularly timely, as last week was National Impaired Driving Prevention Week.

Distracted driving is similar to impaired driving. Both kill thousands of Canadians and both require a coordinated social and governmental response.

This bill will create a national framework to help determine and prevent distracted driving. It also sets out consultation, review, and reporting requirements in relation to the framework.

I am supportive of this bill, and my Conservative colleagues and I recommend that we make an amendment to include the territories in the wording of the bill. I think that will make it much stronger.

Distraction is a factor in about four million vehicle collisions in North America every year, including 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury-related crashes, and 16% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes. Almost half of all people killed in collisions where a teenager was distracted were the teenagers themselves. No text, no tweet, no call, and no Facebook post is worth a life, and we need to hammer that message home.

Currently, the provinces and territories are responsible for administering their own driving laws and penalties related to distracted driving. This bill will assist them by constructing a framework to prevent distracted driving. The framework will include information and statistics, creating and implementing public implementation programs, better understanding the role of driver assistance technology, and sharing best practices between provinces, municipalities, and the federal government. This will provide support to Canadians on the front line who are tackling this problem.

This is a particularly egregious problem amongst teen drivers, although they alone are not to blame. Distraction was a factor in over half of the moderate to severe crashes, and almost half of all people killed in those crashes were teens. Part of what makes this so tragic is that this is so avoidable.

According to statistics from Alberta Transportation, the number of convictions for distracted driving has risen significantly. In Edmonton alone, distracted driving infractions were up 60% in the first quarter of this year. Nearly 90% of these convictions are related to using hand-held devices while driving and about 26% of all collisions involved the use of a phone. This problem cannot be solved only by increasing penalties and increasing law enforcement resources. Ending distracted driving requires a cultural shift. We need to learn to put the device down and drive.

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to participate in an announcement by the Parkland County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving of their 2017 project red ribbon campaign. The campaign provides education on impaired driving and risks. Organizations like MADD exemplify success in combatting the similar problem of impaired driving. Statistics suggest that the efforts made in the fight against impaired driving have saved over 30,000 Canadian lives. Despite this number, Transport Canada estimates that in the last 30 years, nearly 40,000 alcohol-related fatalities have occurred.

Through the work of schools, governments, police forces, and non-profit organizations, people are hearing the message about the consequences in getting behind the wheel while impaired by drugs and alcohol. It is my hope that this bill would help promote more awareness of the serious issue of distracted driving.

We must continue to ensure that the authorities have adequate tools to stop distracted driving. More than that, we need to change the culture of constant communication and connectivity. It is acceptable to put the phone down for a while. In fact, when driving it is the law.

More Canadians need to understand that this is a grave issue. Distracted driving can kill. It rips families apart and ruins lives. It is time to stop, think, and put the phone down.

To conclude, my Conservative colleagues and I support these measures to prevent and deter distracted driving.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is a wonderful issue to talk about. I applaud my colleague for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, who has done an outstanding job in recognizing an issue that is important to all of us.

At times, we get legislation that many people who might be watching wonder what it is about, how it relates to them, and so forth. However, with the proposed legislation before us, people can easily identify why it is an important debate that we should be having inside this chamber.

A month or so ago I was driving down Erin Street in Winnipeg between Notre Dame and Portage Avenues. On the right-hand side, I saw a car that was all crunched up. I could tell it had been in a fairly significant accident. Hopefully there were no fatalities. On the window was the message “I was texting” or something of that nature. It had a profound impact when I saw that.

Manitoba Public Insurance has done an outstanding job in promoting the hazards of texting or being preoccupied with some sort of electronic device that usually takes attention away from driving. Manitoba, I think, is a little more progressive in trying to deal with this particular problem.

When cellphones really started to become prevalent, and it was not that long ago, the mid-1990s, there were often individuals talking on their phone and driving. I must admit that I, too, had a cellphone. I would be driving, and all of a sudden, 10 or 15 minutes would have gone by, and I would wonder how I had gotten to a particular point. I do not think that would be surprising to a large number of people. A lot of people can understand and relate to that sort of situation, which I know first-hand.

I first started talking about the dangers of texting and driving probably in the late 1990s. Going into the turn of the century, we recognized more and more just how hazardous it is. There are many car depots with cars that were in accidents, which included fatalities, individuals who were paralyzed, and all sorts of horrific accidents. If we look back, we will find more and more of those accidents were because the driver was distracted.

Here we have legislation that is talking about how we can collect the data, and that we need to look at ways in which the national government might be able to provide some leadership to provincial and territorial jurisdictions. However, as my time is up, I will continue when the bill next comes up.