On his way to a joint education and enforcement traffic safety initiative kick-off at Fairview Mall on October 22, Constable Clint Stibbe encountered distracted drivers breaking the law on city streets.
He has heard many explanations as to why people are using mobile devices behind the wheel.
“It ranges from I had to make an urgent phone call and I was looking at a picture that just came through the phone to surfing the internet. I have heard every excuse under the sun. Unfortunately none of it will excuse the loss of a life. We need to save people on the roads by putting down that device.”
Over a four-day period, Toronto Police Traffic Services and 33 Division along with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Toronto and Aurora detachments and their highway enforcement team and York Regional Police will target drivers in the Greater Toronto Area who engage in the Big Four infractions: aggressive, distracted and impaired driving and failing to use their seat belts, which are the leading causes of death and injury on municipal and provincial highways.
Operation Shield runs intermittently on October 22 and 24 and November 5 and 7.
The officers will be concentrating on rush hours along both directions of Highway 404 from 16th Avenue in the town of Markham to Highway 401 and on HOV lanes
Superintendent Neil Corrigan and Inspector Richard Hegedus, of 33 Division, attended the joint forces operation kick-off at Fairview Mall.
“This is an operation to keep our roads safe,” said Corrigan, the Division’s unit commander. “With the holiday season coming up, we need to remind drivers that Toronto Police and its partners will be focused on ensuring they get home safely.”
Hegedus noted that road fatalities exceeded homicides in the city last year.
“We have worked hard so far this year to ensure that our pedestrians and motoring public are safe,” he added. “We have reduced the number of traffic fatalities by about 29 per cent this year. When people are driving and they are on their cell phones and they take two seconds to check a text message while driving at 60 kilometres an hour, they would have travelled 33 metres in that brief period without noticing the vehicle in front of them slowing down or possibly stopping. That causes a collision. We want to ensure that people get to their destinations safely.”
Last year, there were 78 distracted driving deaths in the province and the OPP laid 19,000 distracted driving charges in 2013 as compared to 16,000 the previous year.