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‘We’re out there’: Durham Regional Police cracking down on distracted driving

WATCH ABOVE: In a crackdown from above, Durham Regional Police say they have nabbed several drivers in downtown Oshawa this week. With four officers on patrol, police were able to collaborate and find several drivers not paying attention on the road. Frazier Snowdon explains.

If you’ve spent event a few minutes on the road, you’ve probably noticed that distracted driving remains a big problem.

To combat the problem, Durham Regional Police are cracking down this month in a distracted driving blitz.

“What we have is [that] I observe the offending drivers and I’ll call over to the waiting officers,” says Constable Jeff Bastien with Durham Police.

He’s one of four officers assigned to conduct an operation, watching for drivers. But here’s the trick: he’s not in his car, but keeping track from above with a pair of binoculars, at a nearby parking garage in downtown Oshawa.

“We’re out there and we’re actually doing it,” says Bastien.

“We want to get the information out there that the driver should be aware we are enforcing it and laying charges for it.”

READ MORE: Stiff new penalties for distracted, impaired driving in Ontario begin on Jan. 1

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While on the call, Global News witnessed dozens of people using their phones, too many for the officers to respond. Even with police lights activated up ahead, drivers were still using the phones.

“They were still here, behind the steering wheel, trying to tuck it behind their knee. With this vantage point, it was difficult to hide,” Bastien says.

The Wednesday morning blitz alone nabbed nearly 20 people — with some even getting caught for suspensions. The fine for driving distracted is now more than $600 with demerit points, as well.

But that’s not the worst part — if you get caught more than once, that fine can be even steeper and could really hit your bank account.

READ MORE: Should Alberta adopt similar distracted driving legislation as Ontario?

“We have the option of laying something called a summons,” Bastien said. “So higher fines, up to $3,000.”

The crackdown is an important tool because it’s been proven that texting while driving is a serious danger on the roads.

“The property damage alone, personal injury and death are right up there with impaired driving.”

Police have a variety of ways to ensure you obey the law, whether it’s looking from above, from the bike or while on patrol.

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Bastien says it’s just safer — and cheaper — to leave the phone alone.

WATCH: Drive safe tips: Avoiding distracted driving

Drive safe tips: Avoiding distracted driving
Drive safe tips: Avoiding distracted driving

“As long as you’re moving, if you’re stopped at a red light, it doesn’t matter,” Bastien said. “It’s still an offence.”

The blitz will last until the end of the month. But remember — they are always watching, so keep your eyes on the road.