"The only regret I have now, in
hindsight, is that I didn't go after 30 over [the limit] as
opposed to 50 over."
Commissioner Fantino made headlines in
late June when he first mused about his idea for a tough new
speeding law. Six weeks later, Ontario's Liberal government -
keen to crack down on a deadly epidemic of street racing -
agreed to implement it.
The maximum fine of $10,000 is the
highest of its kind in Canada.
The proposal faced little resistance on
the way to becoming law, since excessive speeding was viewed as
a major problem, said Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.
The numbers bear that out, she added.
"This is serious; it was far more
extensive than maybe people thought," Ms. Cansfield said.
"People were getting away with it. Well, not any more."
In the past eight years, 39 people have
been killed in Ontario in street-racing incidents. The law,
billed as the toughest in the country, has other provinces
looking at similar measures. Police in British Columbia already
can impound vehicles involved in street racing.
Commissioner Fantino and Ms. Cansfield
said they're confident the charges will stick in court and
offenders will be required to pay the fines - not to mention the
staggering insurance rates they're likely to face as a result of
More than 80 per cent of those busted so
far have been male, and about 50 per cent were under 27, Ms.
Insurance officials were also taken
aback by the figures, although they said the industry has yet to
determine what kind of impact the new law will have.
"I'm floored by the numbers," said Brian
Yutman, a vice-president with the Insurance Brokers Association
"You hear everything from kids, to
middle-aged drivers, and even some seniors getting hit with
this. You're seeing it hit so many people in so many areas of
Ontario that I would've thought those numbers would have had a
Insurance premiums of anyone convicted
under the new law will increase "exponentially," even if they
previously had a clean record, Mr. Yutman acknowledged. Drivers
who have already run into some trouble could find it difficult
to obtain insurance through the major providers, he added.
"Insurance will be available, but it
becomes incredibly expensive."
If all the charges stick, the province
stands to collect between $2-million and $10-million in fines
from the first month alone. About a third of the charges were
written up by municipal police forces, so those fines would go
to the municipalities.
Ms. Cansfield said she hopes to spend
the money on educational campaigns to improve road safety. Young
male drivers in particular need to be targeted, she said.