Trauma doctor slams mayor’s excuse for reading and driving
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2012 7:37PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2012 11:19PM EDT
The director of one of Toronto’s largest trauma centres has spoken out against Mayor Rob Ford’s recent confession that he was “probably” reading while driving, saying that “we expect our chief executive to act as a role model.”
The comment came just one day after a passenger in a passing vehicle snapped a photo of the mayor in which he appeared to be reading while driving on the busy Gardiner Expressway.
Later on Tuesday, Ford told reporters that he was “probably” reading, though he defended the practice saying he was a “busy man.”
In response to Ford’s admission, St. Michael’s Hospital trauma director Dr. Avery Nathens invited the mayor to visit the hospital’s large emergency room to see first-hand what distracted driving can cause.
“Many of us engage in activities that distract us while we’re driving, and very few of us are going to have a car crash. As a result of that, it’s very difficult to convince people that it’s the wrong thing to do,” he told CTV News Channel.
“The only way to do that is to show them the potential consequences of their action.”
Nathens said distracted driving is a serious public health issue that is responsible for nearly half of the 400 traffic-related accidents that come into his ER.
Nathen believes the public has not yet firmly grasped the message that distracted driving is very dangerous, and it will take a combination of social pressure and legislation to help combat the perilous practice.
“I think the social pressures have to be greater, legislation will eventually follow. But I think the social pressures need to be there and I think highlighting the behaviour of our chief executive is probably one way to emphasize that this is not the correct thing to do,” he said.
Shortly after the incident, the issue over why Ford was not issued a fine was clarified in a post on the Toronto Police Service Facebook page.
Currently, legislation only covers drivers who are caught using a cellphone or other electronic device while behind the wheel. If caught, the driver is subject to a $155 fine.
However, there is no legislation in place for drivers who are caught with something in their hands, such as a piece of paper or food, said the post.
The explanation ended by stating that “on behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr Mayor... please get a driver.”
Police chief Bill Blair told reporters Wednesday that while it is not his place to tell the mayor to hire a driver -- the post was written by Sgt. Tim Burrows -- he believes the mayor would benefit from one.
“I think there is a value in having someone moving the mayor around. He has a fairly busy agenda and I think that it would enable him to, perhaps, get more work done. But, that’s a decision he’ll make,” said Blair.