By Anthony Savonarota
From burning rubber to carpooling in the patty wagon; ontario police’s project E.R.A.S.E. personnel vow to increase efforts in arresting street racers in current times of increased instances across the province.
As you may remember, it was just a few months ago when numerous law enforcement jurisdictions across Ontario publicized that they would be collaboratively cracking down on illegal street racing. In that time, the multifarious effort, dubbed ‘Project E.R.A.S.E.’ (Eliminating Racing Activity On Streets Everywhere), has been able to launch several investigations into instances of dangerous driving simultaneously across the province, and has had much success as a result. The project has also been supported by both the Ontario Ministry Of Transportation and Ontario Ministry Of The Environment, of which dually provide presentations for schools and organizations on the dangers of street racing.
The most recent success of Project E.R.A.S.E. was in April, where 15 dangerous drivers who repeatedly raced on Highway 400 were collectively arrested and charged.
Once the drivers were successfully detained and their vehicles were impounded, subsequent profile searches into each of the assailants led to harsher driving-related charges for 12 out of the 15 men arrested. If someone is convicted, the fines range from $2,000 to $10,000. For a first conviction, a driver can be slapped with six demerit points, a maximum license suspension of two years, and up to six months in jail.
Even with successes like this in such a short time however, those in charge of Project E.R.A.S.E. recently vowed that they would have to put even more effort considering recently released statistics on dangerous driving. In particular, The O.P.P. reported that between the first six months of this year and the first six months of 2017, injuries stemming from speeding/aggressive driving have increased eighty percent province-wide. Worse yet, the report also stated that twenty seven people have unfortunately lost their lives in collisions related to speeding or dangerous driving this year so far. This already surpasses the death toll of fifteen that was around at this time of the year in 2016.
To combat the increased instances, Ontario Police said that helicopters will be used sporadically. The helicopters will most likely be sanctioned for surveillance or even suspect pursuits particularly in cases where the dangerous driving is occurring in urban areas, given their routinely high traffic congestions (and larger likelihood of collision-based fatalities as a result). In addition, ‘ghost’ police cars, motorcycles, and fixed wing aircrafts are also being considered for implementation in Project E.R.A.S.E.’s ongoing battle with street racing.
While Project E.R.A.S.E. is one of the first few police projects to be a multi-municipal effort to such a far reaching extent (twenty two), it does have a precursor. In the 1990's, illegal street racing reached epidemic proportions. Streets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were overrun with late night street racing. In 1996, three officers from Ontario Provincial Police, Peel Regional Police and the York Regional Police created "Operation Dragnet". The officers pooled their resources and dedicated themselves to develop an innovative enforcement and awareness strategy to reduce illegal street racing.
Call 9-1-1 if you see dangerous driving practices that could cause personal injury or loss of life. When contacting police, try to note the vehicle’s location, direction of travel, make, model, licence plate number and driver’s description.