Ontario provincial police have teamed up with police forces in Toronto and York Region to crack down on impaired and distracted driving in Markham.
The four-day campaign — which runs Wednesday, Friday, and on Nov. 5 and Nov. 7. — will focus on the “Big 4” — aggressive, distracted and impaired driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
Around 30 officers will be on-hand, especially during peak commuter periods on Highway 404 from 16th Avenue to Highway 401.
680News reporter Carl Hanstke is on a ride along with Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe on Highway 404.
The campaign comes on the heels of a new bill that was tabled by the majority Liberals at the Ontario legislature on Tuesday, which not only targets distracted drivers, but also those under the influence of drugs.
Sanctions for drug-impaired driving would be a license suspension ranging from three to 90 days. The offenders would also have to take drivers education or seek treatment.
The new legislation also increases the fine for distracted driving. If the bill passes, a person caught using a phone while driving will face a fine in the range of $300 to $1,000 and three demerit points. That’s a significant jump from the current fines ranging from $60 to $500.
It would also increase penalties for drivers who ‘door’ cyclists and require all drivers (when possible) to maintain a one-metre distance when passing cyclists.
As of July 31, Ontario provincial police said 11,500 distracted driving charges have been laid against drivers due to hand-held devices.
According to the OPP, as of Oct. 5, there have been 45 distracted-related collision deaths in Ontario this year, compared to 68 in 2013.