The Peel Regional Police engaged in a new initiative to crack down on street racing over the weekend, resulting in 614 vehicles investigated, three criminal charges, 127 bylaw charges, and three vehicles seized in just two days. Many of the 131 tickets issued were related to speeding or aggressive driving.
The Peel Police are calling the initiative the E.R.A.S.E Program (Eliminating Racing Activities on Streets Everywhere), which began as a result of increased complaints from the public regarding dangerous driving. The E.R.A.S.E. Program’s goal is to “to change poor driver behaviour through education and strategic enforcement,” Peel Police said in a press release.
Peel Region includes the Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon municipalities of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but police said a large number of the drivers investigated live outside of Peel.
In April, Toronto Police saw a 600 per cent increase in stunt driving incidents and a 25 per cent increase in speeding tickets over the same period the year prior, Global News reported. With governments at all levels mandating social distancing as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, roads have been much more quiet than normal, and some drivers are taking advantage of empty roads to engage in dangerous activity.
“As of mid-March, there has been a noticeable reduction of vehicles on our roadways due to the pandemic, resulting in little to no congestion,” Peel Police said. “As the roads appear to be wide open, this is not an invitation to disregard designated speed limits and put people’s lives in danger.”
In Toronto, there have been a few extreme incidents of aggressive and dangerous driving including one young driver going over 300 km/h, and two separate cases of Ford Mustangs doing donuts in intersections, one of them while shooting off fireworks.
While the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has not seen any wilder incidents like those reported in Toronto, VPD Media Relations Officer Sergeant Aaron Roed did say that the number of aggressive driving charges has gone up.
“Over the past few weeks we have noticed an increase in aggressive driving, which is not only excessive speeding. This would include tail gating, weaving in and out of traffic and other such violations,” he said in an e-mail. “We do have a full allotment of VPD traffic officers out on the roads targeting these offenders.”