WRPS cracks down on distracted driving

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Photo by Safina Husein

Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) is putting forth enhanced efforts in order to reinforce distracted driving laws.

The new initiatives and efforts to curve distracted driving come in correspondence with Ontario’s provincial distracted driving campaign which is taking place throughout this entire week.

With distracted driving becoming an increasingly prevalent issue amongst drivers, traffic officer Sgt. John Nymann, explained that WRPS often works to generate new, unique ways of going about enforcing the law.

For example, this past Friday and Monday WRPS had an officer posted inside of a Grand River Transit (GRT) bus.

“That officer spots for folks who are committing the violation of distracted driving and then radios to other officers following in unmarked cruisers who then traffic stop and lay the appropriate charges,” Nymann said.

Last Friday, officers were posted in the Cambridge area. Within three hours, the officer caught four drivers violating the law.

This past Monday, WRPS had an officer observing in a bus near the Wilfrid Laurier University area, driving along Weber Street and University Avenue.

“In a two-hour span, we laid five charges. Four were texting and driving and the other was a license violation,” Nymann said.

Currently, the fine for distracted driving is $490 and three demerit points. However, come June, the fine is anticipated to be raised to $1,000 with a three-day license suspension.

“Motor vehicles are large, they go quickly and over the years being a traffic officer I’ve seen how much damage they can do to other cars, to people in vehicles, pedestrians … the combination is potentially a deadly one.”

According to The Record, WRPS gave out 203 distracted driving charges since the start of January 2018. In 2017, a total of 1325 charges were distributed.

“We regularly stand at intersections, go in unmarked vehicles to find folks who are using cell phones in an improper manner,” Nymann said.

“Even while stopped at a red light, it’s still a violation … you can’t use your phone except for a 911 call.”

The success of WRPS’ efforts this past week has caught the attention of other regional police forces who have stated they will be trying similar methods.

“The point of charges and the point of fines is to curve behaviour. But as a police service, we don’t want to just lay charges as the only means by which people curve behaviour,” Nymann said.

“Certainly, talking and raising awareness, having media outlets … tell others some of the strategies we’re employing … hopefully that will help. I’m confident that will curve some behaviour at least.”

Various other police forces within Ontario have also tried a similar method in order to catch distracted drivers.

WRPS’ ultimate goal through these initiatives is to keep the community safe while raising awareness on the severity of some outcomes which stem from distracted driving.

“We live in an age where connectivity and accessibility is such a key part of our lives and so for some folks it’s difficult to shut that off when you’re operating a motor vehicle,” Nymann said.

“Motor vehicles are large, they go quickly and over the years being a traffic officer I’ve seen how much damage they can do to other cars, to people in vehicles, pedestrians … the combination is potentially a deadly one.”

“It’s our job as police and our goal and desire to keep a safe community and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish through this.”

Leave a Reply