Drivers who warn others of roadside stops through social media during the holiday season are not causing much concern, local police forces say.
Both the Windsor Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police in Essex County say they are aware of drivers alerting other, possibly impaired, drivers about the locations of their Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, or RIDE, campaign through the internet.
Sgt. Matt D’Asti, WPS public information officer, said the service can’t prevent this information from being sent out, but it hasn’t impacted the purpose of the campaign.
“At the bottom line, it is to keep everybody safe, so if people want to share that information that we’re at a specific location, they’re not doing anybody any favours because the way impaired driving operates is the next life that could be taken is their own or a family member,” said D’Asti.
While D’Asti said the RIDE program isn’t about a “cat and mouse” game, he said additional officers are often detailed to spot vehicles who perform U-turns to avoid the roadside checks. He said the main idea of the campaign is to educate people on the dangers of impaired driving and they do this by being visible.
Leamington OPP community service officer Const. Kevin O’Neil said officers working on the RIDE program won’t stay on the same road for the entire night.
“It’s pretty hard for somebody to sit there and say, ‘I just went through a RIDE program, don’t go down there because the cops are sitting there,’ … then they drive down another road and the police could very well be sitting there,” he said.
O’Neil also said the program is out almost every night in the county and there is no pattern in choosing the areas to monitor.
D’Asti said the service is also aware of traditional ways of alerting drivers, like using flashing lights, but this is also difficult to deter.
“It’s not going to prevent us from being there visible in the community, engaging and conducting our jobs to ensure the safest roadways possible,” he said.
According to D’Asti, 8,515 vehicles have been stopped during the RIDE program’s 14 initiatives in Windsor since February. He would not say how many more times the program will be used during the 2014 campaign, only there will be several more as the holiday season approaches.
There have also been 123 roadside tests, 335 tickets for any traffic violation, six impaired arrests, seven arrests under other criminal code violations and 17 three-day suspensions, D’Asti said.
Statistics from previous years were not available Monday, but D’Asti said the numbers have mostly been consistent every year. He said there hasn’t been an instance where either alarmingly high or low numbers have been brought to his attention.
D’Asti said the service has no problem with people attending parties during the holidays, but they should do so responsibly.
“That’s all we’re asking, to make arrangements to get yourself a safe mode of transportation from your venues or your events so that you yourself can have a good time and not have to worry about getting home and endangering other lives on the highways.”