Drones help nab bad drivers, trucks

By Carl Clutchey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

The use of drones continues to be an effective way for police to intercept truckers who either drive defective rigs or flagrantly violate traffic rules. Thunder Bay Police Service and provincial officers conducting a safety blitz last week on the city’s outskirts handed out 30 tickets for following too closely after observing violators that had been picked up on drones. “This method has been used before and continues to be an efficient way of enforcing” Highway Traffic Act rules, a city police news release said. The three-day blitz on July 24-26 was carried out in the area of Highway 11-17 and Dawson Road, a major artery as well as a gateway into Oliver Paipoonge. The rural municipality is also patrolled by city officers. “I think it’s safe to say that a lot of traffic may have been travelling to, from, or through Oliver Paipoonge,” said Thunder Bay Police Service spokesman Scott Paradis. The area has been known for “significant safety concerns due to problematic driving behaviours from passenger and commercial vehicle motorists,” the news release said. Provincial police and Ministry of Transportation inspectors also took part in the blitz, which resulted in 17 vehicles being ordered off the road for being unsafe. In all, police laid about 325 charges for speeding, possession of improper documents, equipment defects and faulty pollution-control systems. Meanwhile, provincial police, who patrol rural Thunder Bay routes outside Oliver Paipoonge, says they’ve recorded a significant increase in impaired-driving incidents compared to last year. As of this week, provincial officers had laid about 575 impaired-driving offences region-wide, compared to nearly 460 over the same period in 2022. RIDE checkpoints are sometimes set up in areas which have been sources of public complaints, said regional OPP spokesman Const. Matthew Foster. City police conduct RIDE checks both in the city and in Oliver Paipoonge. “To date (in 2023) we’ve had 123 impaired charges,” Paradis said. “Members of the traffic unit believe we are on track to repeat 2022’s numbers.”