While the Ontario Provincial Police are shying away from calling it a long-weekend blitz, it has all the hallmarks of a crackdown on dangerous drivers.

"We are targeting those who don't wear their seatbelts, those who are aggressive in their actions, and those who continue to get behind the wheel even when they are impaired," OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said while surrounded by highway patrol officers Friday morning.

OPP officers and inspectors with the Ministry of Transportation will be manning the roads and the waterways in an effort to reduce fatalities that have traditionally plagued the start of the summer holiday season.

But asked directly if this is a weekend blitz by the provincial police, Fantino flatly denied it.

"It's not a blitz at all. What we're doing is elevating our presence; we're elevating our efforts 365 days a year."

In March, Fantino announced the end of so-called roadside safety blitzes saying the police force will follow a year-round safety campaign.

Early this year the Commissioner said the media-friendly weekend blitzes were a thing of the past. He seemed to take offence to the breezy and casual style of the roadside events which often featured highly popular Sgt. Cam Woolley detailing outrageous safety violations.

"There's nothing funny about unsafe motor vehicles," Fantino said in January.

Fantino's new approach appears to be a small distinction as officers get ready for one of the busiest long weekends of the year.

Top of mind for officers on patrol will be motorists who fail to slow down and clear the adjacent lane when they see an emergency or police vehicle stopped on the side of a highway.

"Motorists must -- by law -- slow down and if it's safe to do so leave the adjacent lane clear," Woolley said Friday.

It is a situation rescuers are familiar with and hope to see changed.

"We see it all the time where reckless drivers don't see us and it puts our lives in danger as well as the people that we're helping," paramedic John Masson said.

The fine for ignoring the law is $490.

Officers will also be watching child safety seats in vehicles. In the GTA on Friday, the OPP offered a child seat workshop to help parents make sure the seats are properly installed.

Woolley also warned motorists to prepare for a slow crawl on highways. He said traffic began to increase on Thursday night and a collision on highway 404 could cause some delays.

"You need to pack some patience," Woolley said.

But the OPP is not limiting their patrols to highways.

Ontario's waterways will also be under the watchful eye of officers. A new law states that the rules of the road now also apply to boaters.

"On the water, the message is similar. Boats don't have seat belts but they must, by law, have life jackets," Woolley said.

Of the 36 people who died in boating accidents last year, 24 were not wearing a life jacket.

"Impairment by alcohol or drugs in boats is the same problem we have in cars," he said.

The new law says that if boaters are caught on the water while under the influence, they can lose their motor vehicle driver's licences for up to one year.

Also, boaters who blow close to the legal limit on a breathalyzer test can have their licence suspended for 12 hours.

The OPP's safety tips for the weekend include:

  • Keeping vehicles in top working order to prevent breakdowns. Motorists could be fined $50,000 if transportation inspectors find a car that has lost a wheel.
  • Making sure trailers and recreation vehicles are maintained. Drivers could face fines of up to $20,000 if they are deemed unsafe.
  • If you're tired, pull over to a rest stop or gas station for a quick nap.
  • If boating, try to avoid being in frigid waters.

With a report from CTV's Galit Solomon and files from The Canadian Press