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Toronto police safety blitz to target distracted driving, downtown congestion

Last Updated Jan 14, 2019 at 7:56 am EDT

Mayor John Tory and Toronto police want to hammer home a message to drivers — distracted driving will not be tolerated.

“Distracted driving continues to be a major contributor to deaths and injuries and collisions, including in particular, those involving pedestrians and cyclists,” Tory said.

“It must become a thing of the past.”

Tougher distracted driving laws came into effect across the province on Jan. 1. Drivers will now face higher fines and stiffer penalties if they aren’t focused on the road. Distracted driving includes texting, checking maps, eating, reading and even typing a destination into the GPS.

To make sure drivers are getting the message, Toronto police will begin a distracted driving blitz on Monday.

“I’m very hopeful police will be relentless in enforcing these new laws and applying the new penalties, which are meant to be considerably more burdensome for people than was the case previously,’ Tory said.

Police say they’ve been noticing a trend in people trying to hide their phones in their laps. Officers will be keeping an eye on drivers through a variety of ways, including on transit.

“Officers will be out in marked and unmarked vehicles, pick-up trucks, vans and bicycles,” Superintendent Scott Baptist explained.

“They’ll also be riding on TTC streetcars and buses, conducting observations of traffic,”

On top of the distracted driving blitz, Toronto police will also be cracking down on drivers clogging up streets in the downtown core through illegal stops and blocking intersections in another tag-and-tow blitz.

“The lane blocking blitzes alone have led to more than 6,000 tickets over the last four years and more than 1,000 tows,” Tory said.

Watch Tory’s full announcement below.