Ontario announces crackdown on street racing after huge spike in 2020

Ontario is cracking down on street racing and unsafe driving after a huge spike in the number of offences in 2020.

New legislation aims to make roads safer by imposing stiffer penalties

Peel Police pull over a yellow vehicle
Police across the Greater Toronto Area have seen a spike in dangerous driving since March 2020. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Ontario is cracking down on street racing and unsafe driving after a huge spike in offences in 2020.

In a news conference Monday, the Ministry of Transportation announced new legislation aimed at making Ontario's roads safer and combating high-risk driving. 

If passed, the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, 2021, would create tougher penalties for those who participate in street racing or stunt driving. 

"Both as Minister of Transportation and a parent to driving-aged teens, I am extremely concerned by the rising numbers of young drivers in Ontario caught stunt driving, street racing and driving aggressively," said Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney.

Mulroney told reporters the new measures against high-risk driving include:

  • Increasing length of driver's licence suspensions from seven to 14 days.
  • Increasing vehicle impoundment periods from seven to 30 days.
  • Escalating post-conviction licence suspensions, with up to a life-time ban for a fourth infraction
  • Lowering the threshold for laying street racing charges for those travelling 40 km/h or more above the posted limit on roads where the speed limit is less than 80 km/h.

Increase in stunt driving during pandemic

The announcement comes after Ontario police reported an increase in speeding and stunt driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Toronto police arrested 19 people in connection with a street racing rally in North York.

According to Solictior General Sylivia Jones, the number of stunt driving offences has been slowly increasing in the province since 2015, and this past summer Ontario saw a large spike.

"Stunt driving and street racing are serious threats that have posed a greater risk to our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Jones in a news conference Monday.

The proposed legislation also includes measures to protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians, highway workers and to help to improve truck safety, as well as the oversight of the towing sector.

With files from The Canadian Press