Quebec coroner advocates for more severe consequences for reckless drivers following the tragic fatality of a cyclist.

Movie DetailerCanada Quebec coroner advocates for more severe consequences for reckless drivers following the tragic fatality of a cyclist.
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Michel Filteau claims that he has shed tears every day since his 36-year-old son was fatally struck while riding his bicycle in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Sébastien Filteau was hit by a vehicle traveling at a speed of over 130 km/h in a 70 km/h zone on October 15, 2021.

Following his death, a coroner’s report, more than two years later, is recommending stricter penalties to deter dangerous driving.

According to Coroner Dr. Jean Brochu, Filteau and another cyclist, both wearing yellow vests and lights, were at an intersection on the day of the accident when a vehicle swiftly overtook another car and “only noticed the cyclists at the last second.”

The young father was thrown approximately 20 meters forward and was declared neurologically deceased at the hospital the following day. The speeding driver was apprehended and pleaded guilty.

Brochu revealed that the driver had previous convictions for dangerous driving and had his driver’s license suspended at the time of the accident.

“He had absolutely no right to be behind the wheel,” Michel Filteau stated. “I am overwhelmed with emotion.”

Sébastien Filteau’s mother, Diane Camiré, argued that the driver utilized his vehicle as a weapon. “And he never applied the brakes,” Camiré added, her voice trembling. “He simply continued on his way.”

The parents are hoping for concrete actions but fear that the coroner’s recommendations will yield no results.

In his three-page report, Brochu recommends that Québec’s automobile insurance board, the SAAQ, contemplate the option of enhancing sanctions for driving that endangers the lives of others on the road.

He emphasized the need for change. “A family will now have to carry on without a father, without a husband, forever,” Brochu said. “Driving a vehicle is not an inherent right… Having the privilege to drive a vehicle is contingent upon not engaging in dangerous driving. In this case, eight instances of dangerous driving are more than sufficient to come to that conclusion.”

Séverine Le Page, spokesperson for Souliers et Vélos Fantômes Quebec, an organization that erects memorials for cyclists and pedestrians killed on the road, pointed out that the coroner’s report underscores the preventability of cyclist collisions.

“He was a young father who was about to celebrate his child’s birthday and he was just around the corner from his home,” Le Page said. “It is as heartbreaking as it is enraging because it is avoidable.”

Le Page questioned whether the coroner’s recommendations could have gone further. “We have a cultural problem where we have been told over the past 50-60 years by so many people that we have the right to drive. But that is not what it is. It is a privilege,” Le Page remarked. “Perhaps obtaining a driver’s license should be more challenging, and it should be considerably more difficult to reinstate it once it has been revoked.”

In May 2022, her organization placed a bicycle at the scene of the accident as a tribute to Filteau. This is one of over 20 “ghost bikes” installed throughout Quebec.

The office of Quebec’s transport minister stated that last month Geneviève Guilbault introduced Bill 48, which aims to increase fines for violations of the Highway Safety Code. They also mentioned that the government’s road safety plan would update the demerit point system.

“One death on our roads is always one death too many,” the SAAQ stated in an email. The SAAQ is dedicated to reviewing scientific literature regarding tougher penalties for driving without a license. They also hope to promote “behavioral changes” among drivers.

They emphasized that the penalties for driving without a valid license include a 30-day vehicle seizure, towing fees, and fines ranging from $600 to $3,000.

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