By Shaneza Subhan
Watch out for the Ontario Provincial Police targeting distracted drivers this Thanksgiving weekend.
The OPP will be enforcing Operation Impact, a joint initiative with police agencies all across Canada looking at the leading causes of death on our highways.
The OPP refers to the leading causes as “The Big Four,” which are distracted, aggressive and impaired driving and driving without a seatbelt.
“We’ll be out there raising awareness to these issues by trying to educate the public on how we can all work together to make our highway safe,” said OPP Sgt. Carey Schmidt.
Although “The Big Four” are the leading causes of death, currently the OPP is seeing a decline in some of the deaths related to impaired driving, distracted driving and seatbelt compliance.
Schmidt said they are seeing a spike in the number of people being killed in regards to aggressive driving and speeding.
“So far this year, 51 people have lost their lives because of speeding and aggressive driving,” Schmidt said. “That’s almost a 35 per cent increase this year in comparison to last year.”
Schmidt also said this type of behavior is dangerous since people are unable to react and respond to emergencies when driving at high speeds. The force has seen high death rates as a result of this.
Commuter Kim Lariviere, 50, has major concerns with impaired driving on the road and changes her driving to a more defensive style.
“My father was killed by a drunk driver, so just don’t drink and drive,” Lariviere said.
According to Schmidt, plain and unmarked vehicles will be out to catch distracted drivers. This will allow officers to get into the flow of traffic and make observations without being easily detected.
Fully marked cruisers, automatic license plate reading vehicles and airplanes will be on the lookout to ensure people are driving safely and responsibly.
Passenger Lisa Khan, 48, is heading to the U.S. this long weekend and says because she is competing in traffic with others who are also going long disance, it could create problems.
“It will be more concerning for me this particular weekend as I am on the road for a longer distance and with more drivers with the same weekend plans in mind,” Khan said. “This will increase the chance of exposing myself to a potentially dangerous or negligent driver out there.