Toronto's revamped traffic enforcement team hits the streets next week

traffic

After 25 fatal traffic collisions so far this year and after three consecutive years of around 65 deaths annually, Toronto's revamped traffic enforcement team will begin work next week. 

16 constables and two sergeants will make up the now-permanent Vision Zero Enforcement Team, which will target speeders, as well as dangerous and reckless driving. 

Interim Police Chief James Ramer says officers will focus on areas that according to police data show a high level of collisions, as well as the downtown. 

"When you look at that Don Valley to the Humber area, that will be a priority area," Ramer said. 

A similar team existed between 2003 and 2012, which led to an eventual decrease of 24 per cent of collisions before it was disbanded. 

"If you went back in history and sort of asked yourself, well why was this unit done away with and I guess when that question was asked, the answer was it shouldn't have been or we should at least re-establish it, and we did," Mayor John Tory said. 

Last November, then-Chief Mark Saunders proposed bringing back a temporary version of the team, made up of eight total officers. 

But in August, Ramer decided to enhance it. 

"He said to me he was going to make it permanent and augment the size of what we had authorized under Chief Saunders and that's not a criticism of Chief Saunders, it's all just really good news for me, I was thrilled that he moved as quickly as he did to get on this," he said. 

Supt. Scott Baptist says with how much traffic volume has changed because of the pandemic, they aren't putting specific benchmarks or targets in terms of tickets issued or a reduction in collisions in the short term. 

"It's very difficult to put a success measurement to say at the six-month mark this is what we expect to see," he said. "But I can tell you this, this is not simply an enforcement initiative where we are throwing out police officers to write a bunch of tickets and we're not looking at that." 

As for recent 50 photo radar cameras, Tory hasn't heard back on his suggestion on holding back on the plan to move them to different locations by November. 

"Only because I wasn't convinced when we were sending out 22,000 tickets in the first month that the message would be adequately conveyed in the places where they started," he said. "I wanted to see that the data showed there actually was a reduction in the number of people who were speeding because the camera served their purpose."