Safety advocates say mayor, drivers must keep eyes on road

Safety advocates say that drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, even if they are as busy as the mayor of Toronto.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits he was 'probably' driving while reading when this photo was taken. (@RyanGHaughton/Twitter)

Safety advocates say that drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, even if they are busy like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Toronto police Const. Clinton Stibbe said that people who get behind the wheel of a car need to realize that they may be busy, but they have responsibilities when they are on the road.

"We need to allocate our time better," Stibbe told CBC’s Metro Morning on Wednesday.

"I understand everyone’s busy, but any time you take your eyes off the road, you are putting yourself and other people in danger."

Stibbe spoke to Metro Morning the day after a photo surfaced of Ford reading a piece of paper while sitting in the driver’s seat of his Cadillac Escalade.

The publication of the image has ignited a debate over whether the mayor should hire a personal driver, as his brother and other city councillors have previously suggested.

The mayor’s budget chief, Mike Del Grande, supports the idea of getting a driver for Ford.

But he said that it should be council that makes the push for that to happen.

"I think rather than him saying yea or nay, I think council as a whole needs to say: ‘Mr. Mayor, we’re going to give you a driver.’ And I don’t think people are going to argue with that," he told reporters Wednesday.

'I'd like the whole story'

Stibbe said that the picture that was tweeted on Tuesday doesn’t tell the entire story, making it hard to make definitive conclusions about what happened.

"Right now, all we have is a snapshot in time that shows a split-second of that paper up in the air," he said, also noting that there were no reports that the mayor engaged in any problematic driving.

But Stibbe said he would be interested in hearing from the person who took the photo.

"I’m not out to take sides, but I’d like the whole story," said Stibbe.

When asked about the photo on Tuesday, Ford said he had "probably" been reading while driving along the Gardiner Expressway.

The mayor said he is "a busy man," though he keeps his eyes on the road when he is driving.

Angelo DiCicco, a general manager with Young Drivers of Canada for the GTA, suggested that being busy does not excuse a person from turning their attention away from their driving responsibilities.

"No one has the right to put other people at risk because you’re busy," DiCicco told Metro Morning.

Premier Dalton McGuinty declined to comment on the mayor and his driving habits, saying that he stood behind the safety record of Ontario highways.

"They are some of the safest roads in all of North America," McGuinty said when speaking to reporters in Toronto.