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Speed-related deaths, injuries plung since street-racing law passed, study finds

Speed bumps help control traffic on Draper St. in downtown Toronto March 27 2014. The street features row houses and is located north of Front. St. West between Bathurst St. and Spadina Ave.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A new study shows speed-related deaths and injuries among young Ontario men have dropped significantly since the province passed a strict law against street racing.

The research from Western University found 58 fewer speed-related deaths or injuries a month for males between 16 and 24 years old since the law took effect in 2007.

Under the law, the licence of anyone caught driving at 50 kilometres per hour above the speed limit, street racing or stunt driving can be suspended immediately and their vehicle impounded for seven days.

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If convicted, they also face a fine of up to $10,000, a licence suspension for up to two years or six demerit points, along with possible jail time of up to six months.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, looked at data from Jan. 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2011.

Lead researcher Evelyn Vingilis said the law is making a difference in the number of collisions, not just of convictions.

"First of all, we looked at males and females, and then we looked at younger and older individuals, because we know from my earlier research that street racing and extreme speeding is an activity that typically younger males are more likely to engage in," Dr. Vingilis said.

"What we found was a substantial reduction in the number of convictions for extreme speeding for males, and no change for females, because they were pretty low any way. And, importantly, we found a significant decrease in the number of motor vehicle casualties of males 16 to 24 – quite a significant reduction."

Dr. Vingilis said the findings suggest that imposing strict sanctions can deter risky driving behaviour.

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