Rise in traffic fatalities leads to OPP crackdown on irresponsible drivers

ORILLIA, ON, July 27 /CNW/ - Faced with a disappointing rise in 2010 traffic fatalities on OPP-patrolled roads after dramatic drops in the prior two years, the OPP is vowing to crack down on irresponsible drivers who demonstrate the "big three" risk factors - aggressive driving, failure to use occupant restraint and impaired driving.

"Our Provincial Traffic Safety Program (PTSP) and other positive factors led to some significant saving of lives in 2008 and 2009, but it is very disturbing to see the carnage on our highways start to creep back up again. Any loss of life due to irresponsible driving is unacceptable," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

In 2008, the first full year for the PTSP, there were 322 highway traffic deaths on roads patrolled by the OPP compared to 451 in 2007. This represents a reduction of 29 percent or 129 lives saved. In 2009, these gains were consolidated and even improved a little more when there were 310 highway traffic deaths.

However, year-to-date statistics for 2010 (to July 25) show 163 deaths occurred on OPP-patrolled roads compared to 154 in the same period of 2009 for an increase of 6 percent. July of 2010 has been particularly treacherous with 46 traffic fatalities so far compared to 28 in the entire month in 2009. Typically in Ontario, traffic fatalities rise during summer as more people travel to favourite vacation spots. Fantino urged motorists to take extra caution while travelling this summer.

He also acknowledged that the increase was small and could be a statistical aberration that will be smoothed out over the entire year, but he vowed the OPP will act now to counteract the increase with heightened enforcement.

2010 year-to-date statistics for highway traffic deaths related to alcohol use are up 21 percent compared to the same period in 2009 and deaths related to lack of occupant restraint are up 22 percent.

"Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada and the penalties are severe. I have instructed all our officers to increase their vigilance and enforcement to save lives," said Fantino.

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information: For further information: Contacts by OPP Region: Highway Safety Division: Sergeant Dave Woodford, Phone: 416 553-5471; Central Region: Sergeant Paulo DiFonte, Phone: 705 329-7415; East Region: Sergeant Kristine Rae, Phone: 613 284-4557; Northeast Region: Inspector Mark Andrews, Phone: 705 471-0704; Northwest Region: Sergeant Shelley Garr, Phone: 807 473-2734; West Region: Constable Aaron McPhail, Phone: 519 352-1122

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