Police work to nab racers as accident toll climbs
The OPP are fighting to curb highway racing as the list of accidents connected with reckless driving continues to grow.
Police said the latest accident on Highway 401 Sunday night may have involved racing. A red Miata slammed into the rear of a Pontiac Sunfire near Allen Road.
Jaimangal Budhai and his wife were driving to Canada's Wonderland to see the holiday fireworks when they were hit.
The Scarborough couple both suffered injuries - the woman was rushed to Sunnybrook Hospital with severe bruising and an injured neck.
Witnesses said the Miata and a different Pontiac were weaving in and out of traffic driving more than 150 kilometres an hour.
Budhai said the Miata seemed to come out of nowhere.
"We hit the wall on the right side the first time. After that I didn't know what happened until the car stopped (moving)," Budhai said.
Police arrested one man after the accident and are looking for the driver of the other vehicle.
The OPP has good reason to be concerned about reckless drivers -- the number traffic fatalities on OPP-patrolled roadways so far this year is up more than 20 per cent from last year, and officers have laid more charges.
"We're very concerned with an additional 130 charges laid ... It is clear some members of the public are not getting it," Chief Supt. Bill Grodzinski told CTV's Roger Petersen.
"Certainly those individuals driving at extreme speeds are causing us a great deal of concern."
Grodzinski said the division is targeting three main areas to reduce accidents and make Ontario's highways safer:
- impaired driving;
- failure to wear seat-belts; and
- aggressive driving.
To target street racing, Grodzinski said a combination of measures, including aircraft patrol, but that the OPP can do more when civilians serve as an extra pair of eyes.
"We made four arrests on Saturday morning as a direct result of the public calling in," Grodzinski said.
"Our members were able to arrive (on the Queen Elizabeth Expressway) and apprehend the four motorcycles."
Critics say there's always more the OPP and other police services could be doing to prevent traffic fatalities.
Canada Safety Council spokeswoman Suzanne Robillard said the obvious solution is the use of photo radar -- a radar gun that takes photos of speeders' licence plates.
Photo radar was introduced in Ontario by Bob Rae's NDP government in 1994, but it was scrapped just under a year later by Mike Harris's Conservatives.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government won't re-introduce it, as it's considered too politically unpopular.
But Robillard said a Canada Safety Council poll found that two-thirds of respondents support photo radar on Canadian highways.
"So it seems like it might not be such a bad political move. There's a lot of people that see the use and the benefits of having photo radar,'' she said.
Grodzinski said photo radar should be re-considered if it could reduce fatalities.
"The OPP is interested in anything that saves lives on our highways," Grodzinski said. "Our members see these tragedies day in and day out -- we're the ones that knock on the door in the middle of the night."
"Anything we can do to reduce this totally preventable toll, we'd like to see that."
With reports from CTV's John Musselman and Roger Petersen and files from The Canadian Press