85-year-old charged under Ont. street racing law
TORONTO - An 85-year-old motorist lost his licence and his Oldsmobile for a week and likely faces a hefty fine after becoming the oldest person snagged to date by Ontario's stringent crackdown on street racers and highway speed demons.
The man, whose name was not released, was making his way Wednesday along Highway 407 north of Toronto when he was allegedly clocked doing 161 kilometres an hour -- 61 km/h over the posted speed limit.
"He said he was going to the bank and shopping,'' said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Cam Woolley, who noted snow and ice made road conditions treacherous at the time.
Under new provincial legislation, billed last year by OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino as a "shock and awe'' campaign, drivers who exceed the speed limit by 50 km/h or more stand to lose both vehicle and licence for one week, along with a fine of at least $2,000.
While no other drivers were involved in Wednesday's incident, Woolley said the legislation -- ostensibly aimed at ridding city streets and highways of street racers -- is intended as a crackdown on all aggressive drivers.
"It got silly -- we were getting crashes at high speeds and the defence was, `Well, if they weren't racing someone, then they weren't racing,' even though the consequences are the same,'' he said.
Police statistics show more than 2,300 drivers across the province have been charged under the legislation since it became law on Sept. 30, 2007.
While men in their mid-20s to mid-30s are most commonly labelled as aggressive drivers, statistics show that drivers of all ages are guilty of excessive speed.
In the past three months, 20 drivers aged 65 and older have been charged under the new Ontario law. Three of them were women.
Woolley also said police have already charged two 75-year-old drivers in separate incidents. The youngest person caught to date was a 16-year-old female.
Some of these numbers are underscored by a recent study by Transport Canada which found that most Canadians freely admit to speeding, but underestimate the severity of it.
The report found that the majority of Canadians agreed that driving faster than the posted limit was dangerous, but often felt their own speeding habits didn't pose any serious harm to themselves or others.
While there are signs the message is sinking in in Ontario, Woolley said, an average of 30 drivers are stopped under the new law each day.
Within five weeks of the provincial legislation passing into law, more than 1,300 drivers had their cars impounded and their licences suspended.
During the initial blitz, police caught a 23-year-old motorcyclist from Ajax, Ont., speeding at 210 km/h, and a driver near Cornwall, Ont., who was travelling at 230 km/h.