Police beat: Ontario sees spike in road deaths during the month of May

ORILLIA – During the month of May, 34 people died on OPP-patrolled roads in the province.

By the end of May, 88 fatal collisions this year have led to the death of 94 people. At this time last year, 78 fatal road crashes had claimed the lives of 87 people.

Police are saying a significant number of those who died did so through no fault of their own – they were either passengers or drivers in vehicles that were driving properly when the collision occurred.

Speeding (27) and driver inattention (16) are the lead factors contributing to this year’s fatalities. Both causal factors have increased compared to the same period last year.

“It is unacceptable that drivers continue to contribute to the deaths of innocent people because of their actions or condition behind the wheel,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Rohan Thompson.

“To have this occur at a time when people are finally seeing signs that our lives may soon get back to normal makes this particularly tragic and devastating for the grieving families.

“Everyone has the right to be safe on our roads. Please do your part to keep everyone safe when you are driving.”

The OPP remains committed to saving lives on roads, waterways and trails, officials say.

Five months into 2021, 36 per cent of fatalities on OPP-patrolled roads have occurred in the month of May alone.

Safety tips for drivers and cyclists

ORILLIA – The OPP is reminding bicycle and vehicle drivers to respect all road users by making safety a top priority, especially since there has been an increase in cyclists on roadways.

To date there have been 34 collisions, including two fatalities, involving a motor vehicle and cyclist this year.

June is Bike Month, an opportunity to highlight  safety messaging and remind all drivers of the laws related to cycling under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), OPP officials say.

“Roads are for the enjoyment and transportation of everyone, including cyclists. Under the HTA, a bicycle is a vehicle and cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road,” police stated.

The OPP is reminding the public of some safety tips:

– vehicle drivers should maintain at minimum a one metre distance when passing a cyclist, watch for passing cyclists when opening doors and slow down when overtaking a cyclist on the road;

– cyclists should check for vehicles and cyclists with the right-of-way before entering the intersection. A cyclist should also keep their place in the line of traffic when approaching an intersection and ride in a single file and to the right side of the road to help vehicles make a safe pass;

– cyclists should also stop at stop signs when approaching an intersection and yield the right-of-way to traffic.

For more information visit mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/bicycle-safety.shtml.

Provincial ROPE Squad

ORILLIA – The Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) Squad, a collaborative province-wide initiative with 35 members from 14 Ontario police services, made 1,020 arrests in 2020.

That works out to an average of 4.05 arrests per day.

The ROPE Squad was established in 2002 as a multi-agency provincial team, which is mandated to “locate and apprehend parolees unlawfully at large (UAL) in the Province of Ontario and to locate and apprehend anyone who: escapes from secure custody, escapes from or walks away from non-secure custody or becomes unlawfully at large by violating bail, parole, or intermittent sentence terms.”

The conditions presented by COVID-19 last year provided various challenges, some of which affected the mandate of the ROPE Squad.

Despite these challenges, the ROPE Squad persevered and adapted while remaining professional and safely arresting many offenders, officials say, adding
no ROPE Squad members have tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result of the arrests made in 2020, the ROPE Squad seized nine guns, three knives, 799 rounds of ammo, 657 grams of fentanyl, 236 grams of cocaine, as well as other illicit substances.

The ROPE Squad made 1,140 arrests in 2018 and 1,024 arrests in 2019.

As of May 3, the ROPE Squad has made 400 arrests this year and seized four firearms and myriad illicit drugs.