(ORILLIA, ON) – With only two summer long weekends left to enjoy Ontario’s outdoors, the Civic Holiday will make for as busy a long weekend as any other on roads, waterways and trails according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
As OPP officers ready themselves for the busy days ahead, they reflect on the 17 people who have died in OPP patrolled areas over the last three Civic Holiday weekends (2008 to 2010) and the surviving families who try and cope with the tragic loss of their loved ones.
This weekend the OPP will be targeting the “Big Four” causal factors in collisions as identified in their award-winning Provincial Traffic Safety Program. These high-risk behaviours include aggressive driving, impaired driving, lack of occupant restraint and distracted driving.
Last year (2010), the OPP laid more than 9,000 charges over the Civic Holiday weekend and with almost 5,800 of these being speeding and racing charges on roads and highways it’s no surprise that five people were killed in motor vehicle collisions.
Over the same weekend more than 300 motorists, boaters and trail users were charged for driving impaired (over 80 mgs.) or being in the Warn Range, and those caught doing the same will now face tougher penalties under the new Vehicle Impoundment Program and Administrative Roadside Licence Suspensions. People who include alcohol as part of their boating or off-road activity will face similar charges and these laws also apply to non-motorized vessels including canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft, sailboats, dinghies and other inflatable boats and rafts.
The weekend will also see ramped up enforcement of the Move Over law that requires drivers to slow down and proceed with caution when passing an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder with its lights flashing. On multi-lane highways, if it can be done safely, motorists are also required to move over and leave a lane between their vehicle and the emergency vehicle. The stepped up enforcement will go beyond the long weekend as the OPP begin a period of targeted enforcement of the Move Over legislation on Monday, August 1, 2011.
The OPP is also concerned about the risk of serious injury to passengers who ride in the back of pickup trucks and will be actively enforcing the law that requires all passengers to only occupy a seating position for which a seat belt assembly has been provided.
“So far this year, more than 170 people have died on OPP patrolled roads, waterways and trails and while officers will be working around the clock to keep people safe this weekend, they cannot prevent further tragedy from happening without the public’s help. Exercising safety and obeying the law need to occur before our officers arrive at the scene of a tragic incident because by that time it’s usually too late”.
– Chris Lewis, OPP Commissioner
“Ontario is consistently among the top jurisdictions when it comes to road safety inNorth America. Let’s keep it that way by obeying our traffic laws and exercising care and caution on our roads this weekend, and always.”
– Jim Bradley, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
“Ontario has some of the toughest road safety laws. We all need to do our part to ensure our roads stay the safest in North America. I urge all Ontarians to stay alert, obey the laws and help keep our province safe this weekend and every day.”
— Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Transportation
- August 1st will mark one year since Ontario passed the zero blood alcohol concentration law for drivers under 22 years old. As of June, 2011 there had been 379 convictions under the new law.
- Failing to move over for a stopped emergency vehicle can result in a fine of up to $2,000 plus three demerit points. Subsequent offences can result in a fine of up to $4,000, six months in prison and a two-year driver’s licence suspension.