Police across Ontario and Canada are joining together over the Thanksgiving long weekend to crack down on four dangerous driving behaviours.
Operation Impact is a national traffic safety project and police will be focusing on speeding, improper seat belt use as well as impaired and distracted driving offences throughout the weekend until late Monday night.
“It’s not just about writing tickets. It’s about educating the public. It’s about changing people’s behaviours,” Toronto police Const. Craig Brister told Global News Saturday, describing the effort to address safety issues as “an uphill battle.”
According to police, there have been 59 fatal collisions in Toronto so far this year compared to 50 deaths at this point in 2015.
Police say alcohol continues to be one of the main factors in impaired-driving collisions. However, statistics provided by Toronto police show there have been 25 drivers arrested in 2016 who were impaired by drugs – a 150 per cent increase versus 2015.
For Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), impaired driving continues to be the top road safety issue.
He said there needs to be additional tools for police to combat drug-impaired driving. Murie called for mandatory roadside oral tests to help catch drivers who might be under the influence of drugs.
“If we don’t do something soon to give oral-fluid testing (capabilities) to police, these deaths are going to continue to grow,” he said.
Murie also encouraged increased reporting of possible impaired driving.
“The public needs to help police to reduce these fatalities, and if they see anybody that they think is impaired for whatever reason, call 911 and hopefully save somebody’s life,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brister encouraged everyone to think twice about their behaviour.
“You need to be a little more conscious of what you’re doing, especially on a holiday weekend when you have people who are attending family outings and parties,” he said.
“Whether you’re a driver, whether you’re a pedestrian, whether you’re a cyclist – everyone needs to work together because it’s just not one group’s responsibility to have safe roads.”