PARIS – Brant County OPP encountered a tough year going after problem drivers on the highways and concession roads.
Increases in the number of impaired driving charges, driving under suspension and people caught driving without seat belts in 2012 are “very troubling,” says Brant County OPP Insp. Dave Durant.
To Durant, the detachment commander, increases in those areas are usually associated with tragedy on the county’s roads.
In his presentation of a report on crime and provincial offences showing key statistics for 2012 and the first month of this year, Durant emphasized figures showing the number of impaired driving charges rose by 7.9% in 2012.
Officers laid 82 charges, up from 76 in 2011.
The number of charges dropped to four in January of this year, down from seven during the same month last year. But Durant felt little comfort in that, given incidents of people killed by drunk drivers.
Durant was also concerned about a huge increase in the number of people caught driving without seat belts. Charges in that category leapt 44.6% to 308 in 2012 from 213 the year before.
“People are good putting on their seat belts when driving on Highway 403. It’s in the more rural areas where folks get in the car and think, ‘It’s OK, I don’t really need it,'” Durant told the board.
“That’s when collisions happen.”
Durant said officers are getting sharper at finding motorists driving while under suspension, and getting them off the road.
He noted that officers caught 146 drivers in 2012, up 44.6% over 101 the year before.
“The little validation sticker is a hint,” he said. “When it’s expired, it usually means the officer should do some digging. Half the time, the driver has been suspended.”
In January, the increase in charges continued, with 14 suspended drivers getting caught — up from six during the same month last year.
The number of speeding charges surged by 60.7% last year, with officers handing out 6,593 tickets, compared with 4,103 the year before. Air surveillance has made a difference, police say.
Those key statistics fuelled a 35.5% jump in overall charges in 2012, when officers laid 9,890 Criminal Code, Highway Traffic Act and drug and other charges in the county, compared with 7,310 the year before.
The number of criminal charges declined by 10% in 2012 to 793 from 887 in 2011. They were down again in January, with 47 charges laid, compared 76 during the same month last year.
The number of assaults stayed even at 107 in each of the past two years. However, domestic assaults rose by 7% in January to 199 from 186 the year before. The number lowered slightly to seven domestic cases in January, compared with 11 during the same month the year before.
Break and enters rose slightly by 4.4% last year, with 165 charges posted, compared with 159 in 2011. The number plunged in January to nine cases, from 18 during the same month last year.
The number of vehicles reported stolen suffered a bit of a reversal in 2012, with an increase in thefts. The report says officers investigated 79 cases, an increase of 41.1% from 56 in 2011.
And stolen vehicles recovered also rose by 7.8%, to 124 last year from 107 the year before.
Still, Durant said the figures from last year are still substantially lower than in previous years. There were 102 stolen vehicle cases in 2010, 153 in 2009, and 120 in 2008.