Impounded car photos being shared on social media as a ‘visual reminder’

Last week, the male driver of this Ford Mustang was caught allegedly driving 178 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on Highway 8. The vehicle and his driver’s licence were seized for seven days, and a photo of the car was posted on the Waterloo Regional Police social media accounts to convince other drivers to think twice about stunt driving. – Courtesy of Waterloo Regional Police Service

Regional Police are taking to social media to convince speeders to slow down.

If you’re caught stunt driving in Waterloo Region not only will you lose your car and driver’s licence for seven days, a photo of your vehicle chained to the back of a tow truck could be front and centre on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s all in a bid to help crack down on a record number of stunt driving cases — when drivers are caught driving more than 50 km/h over the posted limit.

“It’s such a great tool to reach a large audience,” said Cherri Greeno, media relations co-ordinator with Waterloo Regional Police Service. “We’re using it as a visual reminder … that there are immediate consequences where your car and licence are taken right on the spot.”

In the past week alone, at least seven vehicles have been seized in six separate incidents on roads throughout the region, including a white Ford Mustang allegedly going 178 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on Highway 8, and a grey sedan allegedly driving 117 km/h in a 50 km/h zone along University Avenue East, near the City of Waterloo Fire Station No. 4.

Greeno said an officer will take a photo of the vehicle as it’s loaded onto the tow truck and send it to the WRPS media team. The team ensures no identifying markers are included (such as the licence plate number) and post it online, along with the alleged speed and approximate location.

The drivers haven’t been proven guilty in court, and “our intention isn’t to embarrass anyone,” Greeno said of why they don’t post identifiable markings.

Since 2014, the number of charges laid for stunt driving in Waterloo Region have more than quadrupled. That year, just 13 charges were laid, compared to 62 so far in 2018. Ontario’s stunt driving law has been on the books since 2007.

Staff Sgt. Mike Hinsperger of the traffic services unit said much of that increase can be attributed to more proactive enforcement by officers focused on what police call the “Fatal Four” — impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving (including speeding) and failure to wear a seatbelt.

“They (stunt driving charges) certainly have increased significantly,” said Hinsperger. “When you look at the main causes of collisions, our job from a road safety standpoint is to cut that number.”

If convicted, stunt drivers could face:

  • Six demerit points
  • A fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000
  • Suspension of driver’s licence for up to two years
  • Up to six months in jail

Stunt driving also includes lifting some or all tires off the road surface, squealing tires, spinning the vehicle, and driving with a person in the trunk.

No area of the region is more prone to stunt driving than others, Hinsperger said. So far in 2018, drivers have been caught stunt driving on rural roads in North Dumfries, Woolwich and Wilmot, on city streets in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, and on most major highways.

“Our officers are getting them in varied areas … do we get them in the 40 km/h zones? Yeah we do, absolutely. Do we get them in 80 km/h zones? Absolutely,” said Hinsperger.

Source: The Waterloo Region Record