Cam­paign tar­gets dis­tracted driv­ers

Po­lice on buses laid 4,500 charges over 2016

Thornhill Post - - News - by Jessica Wei

A new cam­paign by the York Re­gional Po­lice ( YRP) is try­ing to get driv­ers to put down their phone — and not just when they see a cop car rolling past.

The “We’re On Board, Are You?” cam­paign places po­lice of­fi­cers on York Re­gional Tran­sit buses, where driv­ers can’t eas­ily see them. Five buses have the face of Sergeant Aaron Si­den­berg of the YRP Traf­fic Unit plas­tered across the side of the bus, warn­ing driv­ers that they may be caught dis­tracted driv­ing. Driv­ers can be caught tex­ting, call­ing, hold­ing a cell­phone up to their faces. As long as they are seen with a phone in hand, they can be charged.

“Ev­ery­one is so at­tached to their cell­phones, but we have to fo­cus on what’s at hand,” said Sgt. Si­den­berg. “It’s now be­com­ing one of the lead­ing causes of mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sions.” The other causes of col­li­sions in­clude speed­ing and im­pair­ment.

For the We’re On Board cam­paign, a few times a week, an of­fi­cer will get on a bus and ride around look­ing for dis­tracted driv­ers. When a driver is caught tex­ting or call­ing, the of­fi­cer ra­dios a nearby of­fi­cer in an un­marked car and gives the of­fi­cer de­tails, in­clud­ing the plate num­ber, a de­scrip­tion of the driver, type of phone and which hand the phone is in. Cur­rently the fine for dis­tracted driv­ing is $490 and three de­merit points, with a 30-day sus­pen­sion for G2 and novice driv­ers It is one of the heav­i­est traf­fic fines for tick­ets.

Over 2016, YRP laid over 4,500 dis­tracted driv­ing charges, and be­tween Jan­uary and April 2017, when it launched the cam­paign, that num­ber was 1,041.

Sgt. Si­den­berg has been see­ing a sub­tle de­cline, but he be­lieves that with more ed­u­ca­tion and even­tu­ally stronger de­ter­rents to dis­tracted driv­ing there will be a dra­matic shift in the long term.

“The best ex­am­ple to use is seat­belt com­pli­ance,” he said. “Seat­belt com­pli­ance is close to 93 per cent now. But it [dis­tracted driv­ing com­pli­ance] is not go­ing to hap­pen in the next five years.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.