A well-trained police officer is one of the best tools to tackle the issue of impaired driving says Toronto Police Supt. Scott Baptist.
Speaking at the launch of the Holiday R.I.D.E (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program at the Toronto Police College on November 15, he says the city’s officers are trained in standardized field sobriety testing and drug recognition evaluation.
“They are on the frontlines and they are addressing impaired driving on a daily basis,” Baptist said.
Provincially, there are 3,400 officers trained in standardized field sobriety testing and 320 trained as certified drug recognition evaluators.
Baptist, who is the Traffic Operations unit commander, said the public has a part to play in the fight against impaired driving.
About 7,000 citizens have called Toronto Police Communications this year to report a suspected impaired driver.
“Each of these calls gives police an opportunity to prevent a senseless death,” the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) traffic committee co-chair said. “Far too often we hear about the devastation that’s caused by impaired driving and how it impacts real people, families and communities. Impaired driving is a dangerous choice and preventable. It is everyone’s responsibility to get involved and to speak out against those who choose to drive when impaired.”
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Chief Superintendent Chuck Cox, who co-chairs the OACP traffic committee with Baptist, said one in seven fatal accidents the provincial police service investigates involves drugs or alcohol.
“This is a very sobering statistic,” he said. “OPP officers have already had the task of knocking on 39 doors this year to advise of the death of a loved one because of a drug or alcohol-related collision.”
Cox said 590 deaths have been recorded in the last decade in deadly accidents that the OPP have investigated in which an alcohol or drug impaired driver was involved.
“Sober driving is fundamental to be a safe operator of a motor vehicle,” he said.
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation MPP Kinga Surma said the Ontario government stands firmly behind the police officers who are committed to make the roads safe.
“We are ensuring that there are strict laws and penalties in place to combat impaired driving,” she said.
Starting in January, she said the government will introduce monetary penalties that will apply to all alcohol and drug-related sanctions.
“There is no reason why anyone should be driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis or any other drug that impairs judgment,” she said.