Street racers, stunt drivers be warned: GTA police are watching you from helicopters

By Kevin Misener and Patricia D'Cunha

Police spanning the GTA have a warning for street racers and stunt drivers: you likely won’t see the officers coming.

With the arrival of warmer weather and the official start of summer in about a month, local officers will be targeting street racers and stunt drivers from the air.

York Regional Police, in conjunction with police services across Ontario, launched Project Erase on Wednesday, which will see officers in helicopters cracking down on dangerous driving behaviours.

“It’s that time of the year where modified vehicles begin to roll out on the roads, and some drivers seem to think that they can use our streets as their personal racetrack,” York Regional Police said in a release.

Police will be “watching for vehicles staging to race, vehicles travelling at excessive rates of speed and vehicles that do not meet safety standards.”

Over the summer months, the Air2 York helicopter and Ontario Provincial’s helicopter will work with officers on the ground to spot dangerous drivers in the air and pursue them — similar to what York police did earlier this month in Vaughan.

On May 12, officers in Air2 spotted a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old man doing donuts in the parking lot of an industrial area.

“Just watching a vehicle do donuts at the end of Killaloe Road, south of [Hwy.] 7, west of the rail yard,” the officer said in the video posted online by police.

When officers on the ground caught up to that driver, he took off at speeds of up to 180 km/h. They didn’t have to continue the chase on the roadway because of the helicopter in the air.

Street racing in York Region

A York Regional Police helicopters following a speeding driver in a parking lot in Vaughan and on Highway 401 on May 12, 2022. (Screenshot of police video)

The driver then took the shoulder of Hwy. 401, and weaved dangerously through traffic and intersections, nearly causing collisions. Officers eventually caught up to the 19-year-old in an underground garage and arrested him.

No injuries were reported in that incident.

York police Insp. Ian Hill said stunt driving is a risk to drivers and the public.

“These groups take sections of roads and intersections, or parking lots or private property. To conduct illegal, hazardous actions such as racing, drifting, and burnouts,” Hill said.

York Region police said excessive speed has always contributed to many collisions in the area.

“Street racers put themselves and unsuspecting road users at risk of death or serious injury when they choose to disobey traffic laws and drive without due care and control and disregard for public safety.”

“The real finish line for these drivers may be a court, fines, jail, vehicle seizure, a loss of driving privileges or even worse, the hospital or the morgue.”

Police are asking anyone who spots a dangerous driver to call 911, and if safe to do so, make a note of the vehicle’s make, model and licence plate, the location and direction of travel, and a description of the driver.

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