Corp Comm Connects


York police welcome these calls from drivers
Dec. 7, 2014
By Kim Zarzour

Drivers with cellphones are playing a big role helping nab drunk drivers on the road this holiday season.

The number of people contacting police to report possible impaired drivers has been steady and strong, according to Const. Robert Gabay.

“They’re calling us constantly, 24 hours a day,” he said. “The message is definitely getting out there that...we rely on other drivers to be eyes and ears for us.”

A concerned citizen, who called 911 Thursday, led to an arrest for impaired driving while distracted driving in Vaughan - at 8:42 a.m. - according to a Tweet from York Regional Police.

The following day, another call led to this Tweet from police: “Huge thank you to the citizen who phoned to report a potential impaired driver this afternoon. Possible holiday season tragedy averted!”

“Our citizens continue to be strong allies in the fight against impaired driving,” said Const. Andy Pattenden.

Since the launch of the Safe Roads...Your Call program, more than 18,700 calls have been placed by residents to 911, reporting a suspected impaired driver, Const. Pattenden said. Those calls have resulted in more than 2,500 arrests.

Police respond immediately to reports of erratic driving as a crime in progress. If they are able to locate the driver, they will do so or police will visit the address of the registered owner if it is in the area, or contact police from a neighbouring jurisdiction, Const. Gabay said.

Dean Miller, an Aurora resident, noticed a semi truck that was weaving lane to lane on Hwy. 400, near Bradford, one recent evening.

At Canal Road, he phoned police and stayed a safe distance behind the erratically driving vehicle before exiting the highway at Aurora.

“911 was very good about taking info and vehicle description, so I believe there was an intervention further south,” he said. “We felt much better having made the call. Couldn't help but imagine the truck plowing into slower traffic further down the 400, or not making the turn too well at 401.”

Willowdale resident Dave Slotnick also reported an apparently impaired driver near Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue.

“Police were at Steeles waiting for the driver, and he was pulled over, tested and charged. I got a nice letter from the staff sergeant thanking me.”

Michele LeBlanc, of Richmond Hill, reported a weaving car to police late one night as she drove up north with her family.

“I don't even know if he was caught because he turned off onto a concession. Fortunately, my husband knows the back roads well enough that he could give the O.P.P. a rough idea of where he was going.”

LeBlanc felt compelled to make the call because she has friends who were killed by drunk drivers.

“It could happen to anybody; it destroys families,” she said. “A few laughs and some drinks are just not worth the potential consequence. I don't want to see anybody get hurt or otherwise because of somebody else's stupid decision.”

When reporting a dangerous driver, Const. Gabay advises staying a safe distance from the vehicle, then calling 911 “and let us handle it from there”.

In addition to encouraging you to report impaired driving, York Regional Police operate spot checks throughout the week, targeting key areas, he said.

Friday night, police set up a RIDE check near highways 7 and 400 - an area with several bars and restaurants - resulting in two arrests and three three-day suspensions.

During last year’s holiday season, Const. Pattenden said 66 drivers were arrested for impaired driving.

On Nov. 18, York police kicked off the 2014 Festive Season Enhanced R.I.D.E. Program and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Project Red Ribbon Campaign to aggressively combat impaired driving during the holiday season.

As of Nov. 12, there were 884 impaired-by-alcohol arrests and 27 impaired-by-drug arrests in York Region this year along with two fatalities where impaired driving was a contributing factor.