Racing legislation, air patrols helped save lives cops say

Street racing legislation introduced last fall and the re-intro­duc­tion of the OPP’s aerial traffic enforcement program are responsible for reducing the number of fatalities by 32 per cent on roads the OPP patrols over the same period last year, Commissioner Julian Fantino said.

That is the equivalent of 82 lives being saved.

To date in 2008, 174 people have been killed compared to 256 in 2007. The number of fat­al collisions is also down significantly – 151 this year versus 221 in 2007, a 31.7 per cent drop.

Deaths are down 40.2 per cent from 102 last year to 61 this year, where speeding is a factor in the collision. Alcohol-related fatalities have dropped 37 per cent (29 compared to 46). The only area showing an increase is in marine fatalities, where 21 people have died this year as compared to 15 at the same point in 2007, a 20 per cent increase. There were no marine fatalities on waterways the OPP patrols over the Civic Holiday weekend.

“The OPP’s provincial traffic enforcement program is obviously working,” Fantino said. “That and the new legis­lation enables us to suspend the licence and impound the vehicle on the spot of motorists driving more than 50 km/hour over the posted speed limit appear to finally be having a positive affect on motorists’ driving behaviour.”

The two aircraft the OPP used on provincial roads over the Civic Holiday weekend were responsible for 561 charges. The OPP-owned Cessna identified 224 motorists speeding, including four doing more than 50km over the posted limit. The rental plane was responsible for 305 charg­es.

“The aerial enforcement program has been a great addition to the OPP’s resour­ces,” said Chief Superintendent Bill Grodzinski, commander of the Highway Safety Division said. “It has allowed us to patrol more areas and to target hot­spots throughout the province. We are able to move the planes around to suit traffic conditions and patrol areas where we know from experience there are problems.”

Province-wide, the OPP laid 7,740 charges for various of­fen­ces, including 5,643 speed­ing charges, 107 racing charges, 399 seatbelt charges, and 127 impaired driv­ing char­ges.