From May 15 to 21, Waterloo Regional Police police laid 33 impaired driving charges. – Brent Davis , Record staff file photo

Distracted and drunk driving charges increased dramatically during a recent weeklong road safety police blitz.

“It’s worrisome,” said Sgt. John Nymann, an officer with Waterloo Regional Police’s traffic branch.

From May 15 to 21, police laid 33 impaired driving charges. The same campaign last year resulted in 14 drunk driving charges.

In 2017, 34 drivers were charged with distracted driving, which involves using a cellphone while driving. This year, the number climbed by 50 to 84 charges.

“It’s well over double,” said Nymann, referring to the charges for distracted and impaired driving.

In total, 789 charges were laid last month, compared to 704 in the road safety blitz last year.

Nymann said the “fatal four” driving offences that contribute to injuries and death are speeding, seatbelt infractions, cellphone use and impaired driving.

Another area of concern is aggressive driving.

In the recent safety blitz, police laid 294 charges, with the majority of them related to speeding, he said.

In 2017, the same campaign resulted in 291 charges.

Aggressive driving includes stunt driving, which can refer to driving more than 50 km/h over the speed limit, squealing tires, doing doughnuts on a road and weaving in and out of traffic.

Nymann said he recently stopped a motorist driving 106 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. The motorist was a novice driver who holds a G2 licence.

During the safety blitz, there also were 17 seatbelt charges and 361 traffic-related charges, including insurance-related charges and highway traffic offences.

“As police we are going to continue ramping up our enforcement,” Nymann said.

He said police will also continue RIDE programs, an initiative they conduct almost nightly, as well as a focus on distracted driving.

Next month, the fine for distracted driving will increase from $490 to $1,000. Offenders also get three demerit points.

In July, a driver who is convicted will also face a three-day driving suspension.

Source: The Waterloo Region Record