Motorists who choose to drive in an unsafe manner will get tickets, Toronto Police Chief James Ramer declared at the launch of a permanent traffic enforcement team on October 15 at Traffic Services.
Since its introduction on a call-back basis in January, the team has yielded more than 29,000 tickets focusing exclusively on speeding and aggressive, distracted and impaired driving.
The dedicated team of 16 experienced Traffic Constables and two Sergeants will be split into groups covering the city.
They will be strategically deployed, focusing on locations and times where data analysis and intelligence show the greatest opportunity for safety improvement through enforcement.
“They will be highly visible in marked police vehicles like the ones on display today and they will also be equipped with unmarked police vehicles with emergency lighting,” said Ramer. “By using both, we are able to use a variety of operational tactics to best detect unsafe driving.”
Toronto Police and the City of Toronto previously pledged their support to the five-year Vision Zero plan to reduce the number of preventable serious and fatal collisions.
“As Chief, this is a priority for me,” Ramer pointed out.
Last August, he approved the formation of the full-time dedicated team to specifically target individuals driving unsafely and dangerously.
“This includes what is known as the ‘Big 4’ – speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving and impaired driving,” added Ramer. “The Vision Zero Enforcement Team will complement the City’s road safety initiatives such as Automated Speed Enforcement cameras and enhance existing traffic enforcement activities which are carried out by front-line officers across the city.
“While we recognize that road safety is a shared responsibility and everyone has a part to play, I believe the dedicated enforcement team can help protect our most vulnerable road users and bring us closer to that vision of zero deaths on our roads.”
The permanent traffic enforcement team will work 10-hour days and 10-hour afternoon/evening shifts.
“The actual start time might be staggered and might change slightly based on the data received pertaining to when is the best time to do enforcement,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft of Traffic Services.
Working under Traffic Services, the new team will work out of 22 Division and the 55 Division substation.
The program will be rolled out on October 19.
Supt. Scott Baptist said the officers working in the city far too often witness the terrible devastation caused by individuals who choose to willfully drive recklessly and dangerously on Toronto streets.
“While many factors play a part in making our roads safer for all road users, I – like many – know that enforcement plays a critical role in addressing those drivers and the behaviour that put the lives and safety of others at risk,” said the Traffic Services Unit Commander. “Nothing does more to slow someone down, to get them to put their phone down or to have them operate their vehicle in a safe and courteous manner than being pulled over and charged when caught breaking the law.”
The Vision Zero Road Safety Planis a comprehensive five year (2017-2021) action plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets.
With over 50 safety measures across six emphasis areas, the plan prioritizes the safety of the most vulnerable road users through a range of initiatives.
“A key and important part of Vision Zero is enforcement,” said Mayor John Tory. “Not only is this new police unit going to be a permanent fixture, but it’s larger than what was contemplated earlier. That will mean, in a big city like this, a greater ability to get out there and make sure people know that this kind of dangerous distracted and careless driving are not on and people are going to be caught. This a demonstration of the fact that the police and ourselves at City Hall view this as a very important priority and are prepared to see the resources dedicated to doing it and to have this kind of proactive approach that I believe aligns perfectly with our Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.”
Tory said the City will provide data to the police.
“We collect all kinds of data through our Bluetooth technology we have installed on roads across the city,” he added. “We will also continue to update the police continuously, as we have been doing, on places where we are changing speed limits and things like that so this will improve their ability to engage in targetted speed enforcement.”