Operation Dry Water aims to reduce impaired boating on August long weekend

OPP vehicle 3-553
While many Ontarians enjoy the Civic Holiday weekend, police services will be conducting safety blitzes on the province’s highways and waterways.

The OPP is focusing its efforts on drivers who ignore Ontario’s Move Over Law.

The law requires drivers to slow down and move over for tow trucks, police, ambulance and fire emergency vehicles that have their emergency lights flashing. The law came into effect in 2003.

Constable Michelle Coulombe is Community Safety and Media Relations Officer with the OPP’s Sudbury detachment.

She said the OPP is concerned about the number of drivers who put police and other emergency personnel at risk.

“Last year the OPP laid 1,891 charges against drivers who failed to slow down and move over,” Coulombe said. She added that this marked one of the highest numbers of annual OPP charges for this offense since the law came into effect.

Coulombe went on to say that during the Civic Holiday weekend last year, OPP in Ontario’s northeast region laid 27 charges against drivers who failed to slow down and move over.

While the long weekend’s focus will be on the Move Over Law, Coulombe added that OPP will be on the lookout for what she called “the big four”— speeding, seat belts, impaired driving and distracted driving.

As for safety on the water, Operation Dry Water is the Canadian Safe Boating Council’s national awareness campaign to reduce impaired boating.

Its main messages focus on the potential risks of mixing any alcohol or drugs with on-water activities.

Ian Gilson, a director with the organization, said 40 percent of boating-related fatalities have involved alcohol.

“Boating is such a wonderful, multi-faceted activity but it needs to be done responsibly,” Gilson said.

His advice is to “save any intoxicating materials — be it alcohol or drugs — until you come back and have done your on-water activities.”

Constable David Hamilton is with the Greater Sudbury Police Service. He says the GSPS Marine Unit will be patrolling local lakes this weekend in cooperation with Operation Dry Water. The unit ensures that safe boating practices are being followed and enforces small vessel regulations.

He added that police will also be conducting RIDE spot checks over the Civic Holiday weekend.

With files from Sandy Siren

Source: CBC News