Pedestrians and bicyclists are vulnerable road users for obvious reasons – flesh and bone which meets metal will not do well. Many pedestrian and bicycle collisions with motor vehicles result in head injuries, and head trauma with amnesia is common, even with bicycle helmets.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act has addressed this imbalance in power between motorists and non-motorists. It establishes a reverse evidentiary onus on drivers. This means that motor vehicles are considered to be inherently dangerous, and there is a presumption that when an accident occurs, the accident is the fault of the motorist. This presumption can be rebutted by evidence from the motorist.
A reverse onus in favor of non-motorists seems only fair in a motor vehicle dominated society. Our society is plagued by accidents caused by unidentified drivers, and which result in head injuries, and by fatalities of vulnerable road users. The law must fashion a proper response.
Legislators in Newfoundland and Labrador should wake up and realize that much remains to be done to create good public policy, and the whole area of traffic accidents is a prime area deserving of legislative focus. Many needed reforms in the road safety arena are being ignored. Time to act!