Toronto police say they’ll be cracking down on stunt driving in the city after seeing a significant uptick in incidents during the pandemic.
So far this year, 714 stunt driving-related charges have been laid compared with 332 last year for the same time period — marking a 215-per-cent increase.
“With the current world we’re living in, in this pandemic, there are fewer people going into work, which causes more of an open road and enables people to go faster on our city streets,” Const. Alex Li told Global News on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, police dealt with a string of stunt driving incidents which they believe are all connected to the same group of drivers who move from one location to the next in the city.
Officers said stunt driving meet-ups are usually organized online through different social media platforms. Large crowds gathered around could be seen close vehicles stunting.
“There are these cars that are out of control doing burnouts and drifting, essentially they become three-, four-thousand-pound missiles,” said Li.
“All it takes is one wrong move and that vehicle could cause serious injury or death.”
Stunt driving meet-ups also pose a threat to the public and police. Many events are held in the middle of intersections, such as the one at Meadowvale Road and Zoo Road early on Saturday. Videos appeared to show cars doing doughnuts just past 2 a.m. and when officers arrived on the scene the crowd could be seen swarming the cruisers and damaging the vehicles.
“It’s disheartening and very brazen to start attacking our police officers and vehicles,” he said.
Mayor John Tory agreed, and during Tuesday’s daily press conference he called stunt driving “an epidemic that has been caused by people who are thoughtless who disregard the safety of themselves and others.” He wouldn’t get into details, but alluded to police having a plan to tackle this.
“We need to bring down the full weight of the law on these people,” said Tory.
“This is not the Fast and the Furious we’re operating here. This is a city full of people, full of other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists who need to be kept safe and this kind of wanton disregard for that sort of thing is just not acceptable.”
Tory said increased efforts will be made to bring stunt drivers to justice and put a stop to their dangerous driving.
Meanwhile, officers confirmed they’ll be increasing patrols in areas where stunt drivers tend to gather.
So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the recent incidents.