Toronto Police traffic enforcement are launching a campaign focusing on distracted drivers clogging the streets in the city’s downtown core during rush hour.
According to police, starting on Monday, January 14, officers will be on the streets “in marked and unmarked police vehicles as well as vans, pick-up trucks and bikes looking for motorists using their phones while driving.”
Police say they will also be riding streetcars and buses to make observations and report them to other officers who will pull over vehicles and issue tickets as tough new minimum penalties for distracted driving take effect.
There’s a $615 fine for a first offence.
Superintendent Scott Baptist said that drivers try to hide their cell phones on their laps while operating a motor vehicle.
@TorontoPolice will launch a #DistractedDriving campaign next week. There will be zero tolerance for excuses of distracted driving. You don’t have to wait to get started. Next time you are driving put the phone away #justdrive ^bm @ONtransport @marksaunderstps @DeputyPeterYuen pic.twitter.com/4IHtPHydBF
— TPS Traffic Services (@TrafficServices) January 10, 2019
“We are committed to getting the message out to people in the city that distracted driving is a conscious choice and one that must change,” said Baptist. “Our goal is to change this behaviour. Please help us prevent needless injury and tragedy on our roads. Put your phone down. That’s the only smart choice.”
Police will also be launching a “tag and tow initiative” to clear rush-hour routes that will mainly target the downtown core.
During next week’s blitz, police will be issuing $150 tickets to any motorist found stopped in a No Stopping area downtown, and towing vehicles that have been left unoccupied in a curb lane.
Police say they have issued over 6,000 tickets and towed more than 1,000 vehicles during lane-blocking blitzes in the last four years.