Opinion split after York cops hide in bushes to nab distracted drivers
If you were caught texting and driving, would it matter to you if the police officer was hiding in bushes to nab you?
Plenty of social media users had opinions on the nature of this action after York Regional Police announced its officers would conceal themselves behind branches and shrubs to catch drivers engaging in distracted driving one week ago.
Regardless of your view on their activities, few can argue with the results.
Traffic enforcement officers issued 101 charges — 23 for distracted driving and 78 for speeding — across the region Aug. 2, following the one-day campaign.
After announcing the plan on Facebook and publishing a photo of an officer peering out from behind trees in Richmond Hill, there was a flood of almost 500 comments from users offering varying opinions.
Some explained how many people they see texting and driving on our roads on a daily basis, while others took issue with the department"s methods.
"Every single day I see people swerving and texting, taking phone calls while driving, seen quite a few close calls," wrote someone with the account name Dan Wilson.
Another account, with the name Terrence Bradimore, said that the more law enforcement focuses on texting and driving, the lower people seem to hold their phones in an attempt to conceal their behaviour.
"As a collision shop owner, I can tell you the amount of beautiful sunny day, rear-end accidents we see where the person who caused the accident never even touched the brakes," the comment reads. "Strangely, what seems like the best way to stop the behaviour actually makes some of the real life consequences worse."
Some users went a step further, suggesting police should set up video equipment to catch drivers.
"Perhaps there should be more cameras out there catching people on cellphones who are too damn stupid and ignorant to care about safety," wrote an account named Jamie Kirkpatrick. "Texting is the same thing as someone driving impaired."
"Sad we lost community policing and we are in trenches in law enforcement," wrote someone with the account name Phillip Glendenning. "This reeks of socialism and communism."
"Saving lives," wrote someone with the account name Suzan Salamon. "That"s what it"s all about. I feel better knowing that my children are safer."
Police departments around the world have employed several techniques to stamp out texting and driving, including riding buses, driving large, unmarked SUVs and even posing as vagrants at stop lights.
The province upped penalties for distracted driving in 2018, moving the fine for a first offence to $490. A three-time offender could be fined as much as $3,000.
In 2016, 65 people were killed due to distracted driving in Ontario, according to OPP, noting 55 fatalities were related to speed; 53, to not wearing seatbelts; and 45, to alcohol.