No seatbelt infractions and just 11 distracted driving charges were laid during a recent Barrie Police traffic initiative. But 222 speeding tickets were written up during the week-long campaign. Three of those tickets were for Stunt Driving – those drivers clocked at more than 50 kmh over the posted limit of 50 kmh.
Traffic Unit Constable Chris Allport says he’s heard all kinds of excuses for speeding, from a sick child to being late for work to having to get to the hospital – despite driving in the opposite direction. The consequences are costly: vehicle impoundment, license suspension, hefty fines and insurance implications.
HAVE YOU DRIVEN DISTRACTED? PROBABLY
On the Distracted Driving charges, Sergeant John Brooks says the 11 tickets were “not bad”. He thinks people are getting it, but reminds everyone distractions are not limited to use of handheld devices. Eating, fidgeting with purses or wallets, checking a GPS unit, even a conversation can be distracting – anything that takes your concentration from the task of driving.
As for no seatbelt citations being handed out, Constable Nicole Rodgers says it may be a generational thing; many of today’s drivers grew up in the seatbelt era (Ontario was the first province to make seatbelt use mandatory in January 1976). She notes seatbelt compliance in Ontario is at 95 per cent.
Moving forward, with the federal government legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, Barrie Police have been trained to identify drug impairment behind the wheel – be it due to the use of recreational or prescription drugs. In fact, Sergeant Brooks says Barrie Police rank in the top ten police services in Ontario in terms of drug recognition evaluations. That’s not to say there’s an urgent problem in the city, just that the service is leading the way when it comes to dealing with these cases.
And with summer here, Brooks, Rodgers and Allport ask that drivers be mindful of kids cycling and skateboarding, and others dashing out from between parked cars. Also, the influx of drivers into the city to take in various summer events.
Enforcement and education will continue through the summer months in an effort to keep everyone safe.