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ONTARIO MOTORCYCLE DEATHS IN 2017 ARE RISING AT AN ALARMING RATE

Motorcycle deaths in Ontario so far in 2017 are already almost as high they were for all of 2016.

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The riding season is far from over, but already this year's one has seen almost the same number of motorcycle fatalities as were recorded for all of 2016, according to CP24 News. As of August 24, Ontario has had 30 motorcyclists killed in accidents, which is just six fatalities short of the entire number of fatalities recorded in 2016. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notes that all of the fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in dry and clear conditions and that most of the motorcyclists killed were actually abiding by the rules of the road when their accidents happened.

A deadly riding season

Last year there were a total of 36 motorcycle riders (which includes both drivers and passengers) who were killed in accidents on Ontario's roads and highways. So far this year, with at least two months of the riding season left, there have been 30 motorcyclist fatalities. That steep rise is especially alarming given that 2016 had already been the deadliest year for motorcycle accidents in the province in a decade.

Interestingly, all of the fatal accidents that have occurred this year happened during dry, clear conditions, suggesting that weather has not been a factor in the increase. Alcohol was a factor in six of the accidents, while distracted driving, speeding, and improper turning were also factors in a number of accidents. The OPP say they have also seen a rise in the number of older riders getting killed in these accidents. Seventeen of the motorcyclists killed were between the ages 45 and 64.

Tougher licensing requirements needed?

The fact that most of the motorcyclists killed were middle-aged and older men reflects the fact that motorcycling has become an especially popular activity among Baby Boomers in recent years. However, in many cases, that has meant that individuals who have not ridden a bike in decades are getting back on with little training.

In fact, as CBC News reports, the licensing requirements for motorcyclists in Ontario are low, with just a written test a nd vision test enough to qualify for a motorcycle license. No road test is required, something that some safety advocates would like to see changed.

At the same time, it is also important to point out that in 18 of the 30 fatalities that have occurred this year, the motorcycle drivers were actually following the rules of the road. That figure suggests that many motorcycle accidents are a result of other drivers not adequately sharing the road.

Help after an accident

A motorcycle accident can be particularly devastating since motorcyclists obviously are more exposed than drivers of enclosed vehicles are. That can make the recovery process after a motorcycle accident especially long and difficult. Anybody who has been hurt in such an accident should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help victims understand what legal avenues are available after an accident and assist them with pursuing whatever compensation they may be entitled to.

 

A LOOK AT THE LINK BETWEEN BRAIN INJURIES AND SUICIDE RISK

This article looks at a recent study that shows a link between concussions and suicide risk.

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A recent study by researchers in Toronto has revealed a disturbing connection between concussions and suicide risk. As the Toronto Star reports, the study revealed that people who suffer from a concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, are three times more likely to commit suicide. The study is startling, especially given the fact that the researchers focused exclusively on people who were not hospitalized for their injuries. The results show how concussions, including those related to motor vehicle accidents, can lead to long-term health consequences that may require ongoing treatment.

What the study shows

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, analyzed the medical records of every adult in Ontario who had been diagnosed with a concussion between 1992 and 2012 and whose injury did not require hospitalization. The researchers found that 667 out of the 235,000 people studied had taken their own lives at a rate of 31 deaths per 100,000 people. That suicide rate is three times higher than the Canadian average, which is 9 deaths per 100,000.

Interestingly, the study also showed that people who suffered a concussion on the weekend were four times more likely to commit suicide. That increased risk may be because weekend concussions tend to be the result of recreational activities, during which people are less likely to seek medical treatment. Weekday concussions, by contrast, tend to happen at work when individuals are more likely to visit a doctor.

Long-term health risks

As the Globe and Mail reports, the average span of time between when the concussion occurred and when individuals took their own lives was six years. That timespan suggests that concussions, even those that do not require a hospital stay, could still lead to long-term health problems.

Furthermore, the study showed that about half of the people who did commit suicide had visited a doctor within the week prior to their deaths. That finding suggests that physicians should be made aware of any concussion a patient may have had in the past, no matter how long ago that concussion was, in order to offer that patient better treatment and care.

Personal injury law

As the above study suggests, brain injuries can lead to health effects that are both devastating and long-term. Sadly, many people try to "shrug off" what may at first appear to be a mild injury, but even a mild injury can lead to serious problems later on. Additionally, this study shows that for those who have suffered a head injury, getting long-term and ongoing care should be a priority. A personal injury lawyer can help those who have suffered a serious injury get the help they need. By contacting an experienced lawyer today, injured victims will have a dedicated and knowledgeable advocate on their side fighting for their rights.

 

DISTRACTED DRIVING DEATHS ARE DOUBLE IMPAIRED DRIVING DEATHS

Statistics suggest that distracted driving deaths will double impaired driving deaths in Ontario this year.

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Distracted driving has become so prevalent on Ontario's roads that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says that distracted driving is on course to take twice as many lives as impaired driving in 2016, according to Global News. With so many fatal car accidents occurring because of inattentive drivers, the grim figures show just how dangerous distracted driving has become in the province and, indeed, throughout the country. The news should also serve as a reminder of the need for drivers to put away their phones when behind the wheel.

Leading cause of traffic fatalities

Distracted driving has already been the leading cause of traffic fatalities in Ontario for some time. However, this year distracted driving has far exceeded other causes of fatal accidents. As of mid-August, the OPP says it has investigated 19 road deaths caused by impaired driving, whereas it has investigated 38 fatalities linked to inattentive drivers. The OPP predicts that if current trends continue then 2016 will see twice as many deaths caused by distracted driving than impaired driving.

The startling statistics underscore the growing problem of distracted driving. Ontario introduced distracted driving laws in 2009, partly in response to the dangers of texting and driving. Since that time the OPP says there have been 600 fatalities in the province linked to distracted drivers.

Finding solutions

Since 2009, Ontario has strengthened its distracted driving laws considerably. As the Ottawa Citizen reports, the minimum fine for distracted driving is now $490 along with three demerit points. Drivers who get three distracted driving citations could find their driver's licence suspended. Police have also stepped up their efforts against distracted driving in a series of enforcement crackdowns.

However, while tough laws and greater enforcement are an important part of the campaign against distracted driving, changing societal attitudes towards distracted driving is also just as important. Far too many drivers, while admitting that distracted driving is dangerous, nonetheless engage in distracted driving behaviours because they assume that their driving abilities are greater than that of other motorists'. The fact is that distracted driving, such as texting and driving, is dangerous in all circumstances.

Personal injury law

Distracted driving has quickly become one of the greatest threats on Ontario's roads and highways. While attitudes towards distracted driving are changing, for the many people who are injured or killed by distracted drivers every year they are not changing fast enough. Those who have been hurt in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help accident victims understand what legal options they have, including potentially pursuing financial compensation claims to help deal with some of the financial hardships created by an accident.

 

NEW ONTARIO TRAFFIC LAWS TAKE AIM AT DISTRACTED DRIVERS

New traffic laws are on the books in Ontario, targeting distracted and other dangerous drivers.

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Beginning September 1 of this year, drivers in Ontario began facing much higher fines and demerit points if caught using a handheld device while behind the wheel of their car. With distracted driving now the leading cause of fatal car accidents in Ontario, according to CBC News, it should come as no surprise that the province has imposed the higher penalties in order to crack down on distracted drivers. In addition to distracted driving, the new traffic laws also target drivers who endanger cyclists and tow truck drivers.

Distracted driving

The minimum fine for distracted driving is now set at $490 along with three demerit points and can go up to $1,000. For drivers on a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence, however, a first distracted driving conviction will lead to a 30-day licence suspension. A second conviction, meanwhile, will lead to a 60-day suspension, and a third conviction will result in their licence being cancelled.

As the National Post points out, however, some drivers still have misconceptions about what counts as distracted driving. Toronto Police, for example, are trying to remind motorists that distracted driving is not limited to actually texting or talking on a cellphone while driving. Rather, holding a cellphone, even if it has no sim card inside, can still result in a distracted driving ticket. Furthermore, holding a phone at a stop light is also considered a form of distracted driving. The only time drivers are allowed to use their cellphones while driving is to call 911. Otherwise they must be off the road and parked before picking up their phones.

Bicycle and tow truck safety

The new traffic laws also include good news for cyclists. A driver who opens his or her car door into a cyclist's path, thus causing a crash, now faces minimum fines of $365 and three demerit points. Drivers are also now required to leave at least one metre of space when passing cyclists unless it is impossible to do so. The fine for passing too closely is now $110 and two demerit points or $180 if the offence occurs in a community safety zone.

Finally, tow truck drivers who are pulled over to the side of the highway and have their emergency signals on are now covered by the province's "move over" law. When safe to do so, motorists are required to slow down and move over to the lane furthest from the tow truck or else face a $490 fine. The "move over" law already applies to emergency vehicles.

Involved in a car accident?

The few seconds it takes for a car accident to happen can change a person's life forever. Anybody who has been injured in a crash should contact a personal injury lawyer right away. Especially in cases where the accident may have been caused by negligence, such as by a driver who may have been distracted at the time of the crash, it is important to discuss whatever legal options are available with a qualified lawyer as soon as possible.

INSURANCE CHANGES WILL HURT MOST SERIOUSLY INJURED

A coalition of groups has come out against a government proposal to lower insurance benefits for catastrophic injuries.

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Significant reduction in benefits cap for catastrophic injuries

A set of proposed changes to auto insurance policies in Ontario will further restrict benefits for innocent car accident victims. The provincial government is proposing slashing in half the maximum benefits available to victims of catastrophic injuries. While supporters of the changes say they will help lower insurance costs, the reality is that they will ultimately do little more than increase profits for insurance companies while exacerbating the suffering of those most affected by serious car accidents. A coalition of groups and individuals was recently formed to oppose the changes.

Benefits slashed

The change, contained in the most recent Ontario budget, would combine certain services for catastrophic injuries, like rehabilitation and attendant care, into a single benefit. By combining those services, the benefit limit available to victims of catastrophic injuries would fall from the current $2 million limit to $1 million. A $2 million benefit limit would still be available to drivers, but it would be optional instead of mandatory. Most Ontario motorists are not adequately informed about the availability of optional benefits, with the result that almost no one purchases them.

Furthermore, instead of having 10 years to claim those benefits, victims would have just five years if the proposed changes are enacted. Medical and rehabilitation benefits will also be combined with attendant care benefits to form a new single benefit limited to $65,000, whereas the current limit totals over $80,000.

Victims suffer more

Proponents of the changes say they are needed in order to lower car insurance premiums in the province; however, the reality is that slashing benefits for the catastrophically injured only hurts people who have already endured immense physical, mental and psychological suffering. According to Brantford Expositor, for example, the $2 million limit is already considered inadequate for many families and victims to cover the astronomical costs associated with treating the most serious injuries. Long-term physiotherapy and institutional care, for example, can cost hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars, not to mention the further economic impact caused to a family when an accident victim is unable to return to work.

Limiting benefits is unlikely to save drivers money. The changes will do little more than help increase the profits for insurance companies. The changes could hurt pedestrians and cyclists who are struck by a driver who doesn't carry the optional benefits that would otherwise help cover the costs of their injuries.

Legal help

When an accident happens, victims should feel assured that they will have the financial resources they need in order to recover or otherwise adapt to their injuries. Unfortunately, as the above article shows, recovering from an accident poses not just physical challenges, but serious financial ones as well. People who have been injured in an auto accident should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer immediately. With legal help, victims will have somebody on their side fighting for their rights and future after a serious car accident.

Keywords: Insurance changes, seriously injured, catastrophic injuries, Benefits slashed, car accidents, provincial government, coalition, Ontario budget, Victims suffer, Brantford Expositor, insurance companies

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