Police crack down on distracted drivers in blitz

Mar 18, 2014 | News

By: Jon Mace

Look out motorists!

Police are out in full force, making sure that you are safe behind the wheel.

Toronto police launched a one-day distracted driving blitz Tuesday morning – the same day that the fines for distracted driving increased.

The base fine for distracted driving has increased from $155 to $225, but the total amount will be $280 due to a victim surcharge and court costs.

In 2013, distracted driving became the leading cause of fatal motor vehicle collisions, according to an Ontario Provincial Police investigation.

“If you consider the 78 fatalities last year and the 325 who have died since since 2010, the number of people impacted by these distracted drivers is devastating,” says OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

Police tell Humber News that distracted driving encompasses any action that a driver engages in that takes their focus away from the operation of their vehicle. For the most part, officers are on the lookout for drivers using handheld devices behind the wheel.

“Everyone knows the emotional impact of one life lost to this senseless driving behavior,” adds Blair. “It trickles down to so many people who, sadly, through experience, know how badly this behaviour needs to stop”.

In addition to Tuesday’s events, Transportation Minister Glen Murray proposed legislation yesterday that would further protect pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.

The Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act would increase distracted driving fines to a range of $300 to $1,000. It would also see motorists yielding a one metre buffer while passing a cyclist, as well as increased fines and possible demerit point reduction for motorists who hit a cyclist when opening their door into a bike lane.

“In this case, if you get hit, you would have the tool to defend yourself,” says Eleanor McMahon, founder of Share the Road. “One metre is not subjective.”

In 2009, McMahon’s husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, was killed in a cycling collision. McMahon is optimistic about the proposed changes and says that if the legislation were in place, her husband may still be alive today.