Monday, September 5, 2011

This is the New Sheriff

So...a few people have asked who it is that will be taking over the accounts?
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or this blog and the next generation of social media that the Toronto Police choose to use...or more correctly, the ones that you tell us by your presence, which ones we should use.

There really was only one logical choice all along.  He was my partner for more than a year, so I knew he had the understanding of not only what I was doing on the social streams, but he gets how traffic works.  Those two were important.  He's made many suggestions for what I should say and post.  (Usually when I wanted to say something really bold.  He would talk me off the ledge and make a much better suggestions).

Everyone in the media is accustomed to him so it won't be a shock or a learning curve for you either.

Ladies and gentlemen please give a really warm welcome to Police Constable Hugh Smith!!

Surprise!!! Why go looking for someone when the best is right beside you.

Hugh will have some help though.  With the training that has been happening within the Toronto Police Service, Traffic Services has some people trained in the use of the tools.  More Tweeters are coming and help with this blog and the fan page are just around the corner.

But for now...please say "Hi" and give Hugh a BIG warm welcome...(I've changed the settings so he will get everyone of these so let him know you are looking forward to his tweets).   I'm off for a week (my therapy session for letting this go) so he won't be able to yell at me. LOL!!

There will be an adjustment period.  Hugh will do a great job.  Give him a little time and a little patience.

So, I'm moving full time to the @TorontoPolice account on Twitter and the Facebook Fan page there as well.

I will be more active on my personal account, but there still wont be anything Toronto Police related. Some traffic safety information and general police info will get in there but it's by no means a police account.

In closing...Thanks for the memories!

Friday, September 2, 2011

There's a New Sheriff in Town

How do I start this post...I knew this day would come.  In fact, I've been planing it out for the last few months. 

"And now, the end is near, 
And so I face the final curtain.
My friends, I'll say it clear; 
I'll state my case of which I'm certain."

On January 15, 2009 at 12:33pm I activated my first Traffic Services social media platform; Twitter account @TrafficServices.  After that, I created pages, groups, profiles, channels, identities and this blog.

The reason?  To "Reduce collisions, injuries and death in Toronto".  I was trying to raise the awareness of traffic safety issues that could lead to better respect for road users with each other.  I was hoping that the information I could share would help our Toronto road users understand each other's perspective a little better. I wanted the public to be more aware of the laws, enforcement practices, decisions that would make each individual road user safer.

So a few thousand tweets, some videos, posts, updates, links, later...I am at the final curtain. (There has always been a music tone to my interactions...I'm not going to stop now!)

I have pushed a simple statement everywhere I could, "Road safety is every one's responsibility...and it starts with you."  And while I've pushed that, an incredible thing happened.  You pulled it in, shared it, pushed questions back and we formed some great relationships through all this social media 'stuff'.

I can honestly say, I've learned more from you than you learned from me!

Through it all, you built a "traffic brand".  Some of you know I  left Traffic Services a few months back to work out of the Toronto Police Headquarters Unit of Corporate Communications, but I have continued to populate the Traffic Services information streams.

I figured when the day came I would be leaving traffic, I would just change the name on my accounts and take them with me.  But, after seeing what you have done and how you have interacted and talked about traffic, shared our safety principals, I couldn't just take that away.  These are all your accounts...not mine.

"Regrets? I've had a few,
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption. "

When I made mistakes you forgave me.  When I got too busy with all my other duties, you were patient.

So, in return for your loyalty and dedication, I will leave you in great hands! 

A replacement has been identified and trained.  My replacement has been told about many of you and how important you are to what has been created.  I could never turn over the passwords over to just anyone...which is in part why it took a few months for this day to officially come.  It had to be the right person.

In a couple of days, you will all know, but for now, just know, you will be in great hands.

I have to thank a few people and I do this at the risk of not thanking everyone that should be mentioned.  Please don't be offended if you aren't thanked.  Know that you are all thought very highly of and my replacement has a list of key people and organizations that have helped so much.

@TVGurl - What can I say to the person who started it all?  I am in your debt for what you did for me!
@AmberMac - Hey Coach!! Your patience was incredible and your teachings so valuable.
@KrisReyes - All the key people to tied me into launched my understanding of the "government" end of this.
@Unmarketing - Your friendly slaps upside my head when you saw what others didn't were very appreciated.
@DeputySloly - You planted the seed to try new things, be courageous and to take the Toronto Police Service where it had never been.
@ChristaMMiller / @Cops2Point0 - The first law enforcement resource I found.  Your direction helped so much.
@808Cop_Retired - You sir are class...pure class! 
@GaryV - Thanks for your time in Toronto.  It's not over! The best is yet to come and the standing offer is always there, so let me know and we'll meet at our usual location ;)
@MrsMeaghanGray - Thanks for your guidance, level minded approach and understanding to learn all about this. By the way, "I've been thinking about trying something" No, seriously, I am...not kidding. See you after my holidays, we'll talk!

Every boss and supervisor that I have worked for and with over the last three years.  Huge thanks!!

Every person that took the time to say 'Hi', ask a question, point out some great information, like a post, favourite a video, share...There would be nothing without all of you - THANK YOU ALL!

Most importantly...@CarrieBurrows and the "3Bs".  You put up with so much.  You let me run with this and never complained about the trips away, the late night computer glow, the phone calls or the interviews.  I will never be able to return to you everything you sacrificed...but it's going to be great trying!!

"For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it..."

Watch for the introduction of the new face coming soon!!

Oh, by the way...this isn't the end, I'm just moving over fully to the Toronto Police streams.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Born to Ride....Victoriously

Well, I figure I better continue about day 3 and 4 at the Great Lakes Police Motorcycle Competition to follow up the last blog post.

Day 3 was more of the basics.

Look and steer where you want to go.  I still found myself every once and a while looking at the obstacles that I was trying to avoid and sure enough I would hit them. 

When riding a motorcycle or a bicycle, driving a car or even just while walking, you need to look where you want to go.  In my time a s a police officer working traffic I used to be amazed when I would roll up on a collision scene where a single motor vehicle hit a pole or a tree or even a parked car.  To the right or left of the collision scene would be wide open space, but the vehicle would hit the only object around.

The reason is pretty obvious.  The operator was looking directly at the object even though that is what they were trying to avoid.  In some ways, this is natural.  The object represents the threat and therefore we fixate on it.  Turn your eyes to the open space and steer towards the space...not the object.

When you walk through a door way, you don't look at the jams on each look and walk through the open space.

Back to the training seminar....When I would use the proper riding principals, brake, steer, accelerate, shift gears, look, use proper seating position all to their optimum I never had a problem.

By the end of day three, I was feeling confident and ready to compete the next day!

Day 4.

Fantastic!!! I went into the competition hoping to be competitive and ride to the best of my ability.  I gave up a few years ago when I left the motor unit of ever challenging for top riding honours.

Looking at the cone...guess what I hit
I took all the basics and put them together at the right time to be competitive.  If it wasn't for using the basics and reminding myself, "Do the simple things right", I might have had a bad day, but because I focused on the basics, I actually came off looking like I knew what I was doing.

Most importantly, the team of five Toronto Police Officer that attended the event all concentrated on the basics and we won the Team Competition.  Here is the break down of it all.

For the published version of the following article, click here.
(From the Toronto Police Web Story)

Born to Ride...Victoriously
Motorcycle riding is a skill you never lose – just as long as you’re up to speed with the latest training techniques.

The Toronto Police Service proved just that, as their five-member team, all of whom no longer perform regular bike duties, captured the individual and team titles at the recent Great Lakes Police Motorcycle Training Seminar in Cambridge, Ontario.

A total of 70 riders, from police services across the continent, took part in the four-day event designed to challenge officers on various theoretical and practical information and to improve their riding skills.

The training courses mirror real-life events and obstacles that police motorcycle officers could be faced with on the job.

For the second time in the event’s 13-year history, S/Sgt Andy Norrie won the individual award. He was also second in the challenge ride, third in the slow ride and fourth in the smart-ride competitions.

“I am pleased to achieve an individual award, but I am more thrilled that the TPS contingent won first place in the team event,” he said.

“This achievement continues to demonstrate that the TPS is a world leader in policing and the vital role that teamwork plays in our success.”

The rest of the team was made up of Sgts. Tim Burrows and Don White, Const. Pekka Jokiniemi and Auxiliary officer Mark Webber.

Jokiniemi, who works out of the Transit Patrol Unit, won the expert division non-fairing skills competition while Burrows came out on top in the challenge and partner-ride events. He also came in second in the last rider standing contest and fourth and fifth in smart and slow-ride competitions.

White finished fourth in the challenge ride and fifth in the fairing skills (expert division) competition.

For a complete run down of how all the competitors did, click this link

For more on the event there are some great YouTube vids...use 2011 GLPMTS or GLPMTS as your search term.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Expert Motorcycle Riding Begins with the Basics

Back when I was a motor officer for Traffic Services, I and many of my colleagues would participate in training seminars as often as we could to hone our skills, learn new tactics and enjoy the camaraderie of spending time with other motorcycle officers from around North America.

I've never won an overall competition award, but I have won many individual awards for skills, slow riding, partner riding and blind course challenges.  I have been an instructor for the Toronto Police and a signing authority with the Ministry of Transportation, so I can walk with a little swagger when I attend these events...but I don't.

This year's Great Lakes Police Motorcycle Training Seminar reminds me why, even with a lot of experience and hardware under my belt, a motorcycle is machine that will remind you very quickly who is in charge.

Day 1.
First time on the motorcycle since my spring re-qualification to operate a Toronto Police Motorcycle.  I broke into my usual pre-competition routine.  Bike inspection: fluids, cables, connectors, equipment, signals, lights, air pressures, tire condition.  That resulted in some adjustments and repairs.  Then a stationary brake test, not much good trying to go if you can't stop! Start it up and roll on to about 20k, then another brake test.  Go again to about 50k and a threshold brake test, with a collision avoidance move.  Now I was sure that I had a good safe ride; now warm ups.
I like to do circles, tight ones! Left and right, warm up the steering head and get used to leaning the bike over.

Ready to go, ride over to the skills courses and shut the bike down.  Time for a little walking.  I like to walk the track to see the course of travel and visualize the lines I need to travel to ensure getting through a sea of cones without hitting any.

Back on the bike, start it up and head to the first exercise.  I chose a simple four turn patter, easy enough build my confidence and get ready for the rest.  Through the entry gates and position myself for the first turn. I adjusted my speed, set my line and absolutely hit every cone possible!!
I made a big mistake!! I looked at the pylons.  Even with all my experience, I made a big mistake by looking at the obstacle I wanted to avoid.
Bike - 1 : Me - 0

Safety Tip: Where your eyes go, you go.  Look where you want to go and steer there.

Once I had that reminder under my belt, I was ready to try again. (Thanks to the "cone crew" volunteers who were kind enough to re-set the pylons).

I had a couple hours of getting used to riding for gold again and felt way better! Enter cocky and confident...not good on a motorcycle.

I was halfway through a tough course and was getting aggressive to really turn the bike on a dime.  (Uhm, 800 pound motorcycles don't turn on dimes).  I cranked the handle bars, started the turn and put in a little back brake.  Enter physics and gravity.  The loss of my momentum coupled with the turn steering added up to a loss of balance.  I slammed my size 12 foot into the ground to pop the bike back upright, gave the motor a little more gas to work with, got off the brake and felt the initial shock travel from my foot, through my leg, into my spine and finishing in my neck.  800 pound motorcycles also don't pop back up by a foot slamming into the ground.
Bike - 2: Me - 0

Safety Tip: When riding a motorcycle or bicycle you can't eliminate momentum while turning tight other wise Sir Isaac Newton will stop to say hello.

Well, all of that behind me and my ego in check again I was ready to ride.  So into the the course that I have been having great rides in all day.  Time to go fast!!

I got into the exercise and got a little off my choice of riding line so to make up for it, I had to turn hard, power through the turn and then brake hard to set up for the next turn.  Can  you see it coming?

That's right sports fans...harsh on the controls and trying to utilize multiple inputs at the same time.  Hello sea of cones and more work for the cone crew.  I was not smooth.  I was anything but smooth and I (the cones) paid for it.
Bike - 3: Me - 0

Safety Tip: Smooth inputs are always required.  Smooth is fast, sloppy is slow.  If you are using too much of any one input (steering, braking or accelerator) you are using up the availability of the others.

The rest of the day went really good.  Cobwebs gone, rust shaken off and reminders that if I am not in control of the bike, it's in control of the results.I felt really good, once I went back to the basics.

Always inspect your equipment
Test your brakes
Warm up
Look and steer where you want to go
Maintain power to the rear wheel
Balanced inputs are smooth
Smooth is control

Day 2
Same start with inspection, testing and warm ups.

Into the cones.

Using everything that I had reminded myself of yesterday, I had a great day of riding the cones.

First competition: Last rider standing

This is a chess game.  Two riders line up on the outside of a large circle that has obstacles in it (hockey pucks, hard rubber balls and small pylons).  The idea is to force the other rider to hit an obstacle or ride out of bounds.  Essentially, plan your route not to hit anything and cause your opponent to hit something by planning their route for them.

It combines every skill you can think of. Steering, slow riding, quick acceleration, sudden stops and route planning.

That was a recap of the first two days from my perspective.

If you want to get your own look at it, head down the 401 to Conestoga College in Kitchener.  (Exit at Homer Watson Blvd, go north and take the first right.  You'll see it on your right hand side.

Click this link and you can see the schedule and all the events.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Distracted Driving - Reporting

Ever since the law was created in Ontario that made it an offence for drivers of motor vehicles to use a hand held electronic device, phone or view a screen not associated to the navigation of the motor vehicle, the Toronto Police have reminded people regularly to avoid using any device that may cause a distraction.

On a daily basis we hear about people driving and talking o the phone. The Toronto Police have been very aggressive in both the messaging of the dangers of this action and in charging people who we see doing it. (To date in 2011 we have charged 13,802 people under the distracted driving legislation…All of 2010 = 15,371)

For over a year, the Toronto Police have offered the community a way to report drivers they see endangering the public by their actions or behaviours in non-emergency situations.  There are two online forms that can be easily filled out and sent to the police. 

One details neighbourhood complaints where the community would like specific actions taken to deal with a problem.  For example:
  • Speeding in a school zone;
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign;
  • Not yielding to pedestrians in a crossover;
Can all be addressed by the division for the concerned area.

The second form allows for the reporting a driver / vehicle in specific circumstances.  Examples of those offences may include:
  • Driver on the phone;
  • Vehicles weaving in and out of traffic;
  • Speeding.

When we receive these reports, we review the nature of the complaint, notify a specific unit for action of the report and take the appropriate action. (Investigation, observation, education, enforcement.)

Often times the registered owner of the vehicle will be sent a letter describing the incident and asked to ensure anyone driving their vehicle adhere to all applicable laws according to the Highway Traffic Act, Municipal By-Laws or other statutes that may be referenced.

It is rare that we will lay charges under reported circumstances for various reasons, one of which is we often can’t identify the driver or people don’t wish to attend court as witnesses or the actions themselves don’t warrant the resources required to open a full investigation when a letter can serve the purpose of educating and raising the awareness to possible offenders that their actions are seen by other than the police.

When circumstances include collisions, criminality or extreme situations of unsafe driving, resources would be dedicated to the investigation and pursuit of the appropriate charges.

The underlying message of all this is simple.  The device that is used is not the issue.  Whether it is talking on the phone, holding a music or entertainment device or watching a movie on a tablet, it’s the distraction that is the concerning issue.

Driving is filled with potential distractions, some we control easily (like not bringing a phone into the car) and ones that aren’t so controllable (visual issues like billboards).

The key for drivers is to remember that the priority when driving a motor vehicle is safety on the roads and the consideration of other road users.

Great drivers just drive, safely.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

5 Tips to Help With Highway Closures

Unless you haven't paid any attention to the news, talk around town or overhead message boards you know that the Gardiner and DVP are closing tonight (yes actually tomorrow morning) at 2:00am.

This closure has nothing to do with catch basin cleaning, grass cutting, litter pick-up or paving and painting.  This closure has everything to do with a being charitable.

On Sunday June 5th many people will have chance to see the city in a new light and at a much different pace.  It's the, "Becel Heart and Stroke Ride for Heart"

Every year this event happens.  Every year we call the closure, all in the name of a good cause, and don't forget it really is!  Every year thousands of people contribute an insignificant amount of time and energy to create a very significant result.  Every year, those not taking part, not aware, not from Toronto are caught in a traffic nightmare!!

Every year we message the life out of telling people to avoid the area, don't drive if you don't have to, find alternate routes, use public transit, etc.  And every year, I watch the cameras and the traffic feeds to see that nothing is moving around the area of the closure!  What do expect....those two highways carry an incredible amount of traffic effectively and efficiently.  Don't believe me? Watch the news tomorrow night and see the traffic impact from this closure.

Here is the irony...tomorrow...I have to go downtown...I have to do what I tell people not to do and I have to use my personal vehicle.

Here is the tips I am going to follow to minimize the pain.

1.) Leave really early
You can't make up time on the road if you are stopped in grid locked traffic.  All that happens is you get mad and frustrated and that can lead to bigger problems.

2.) Plan your route
Don't drive anywhere near the closure area until you absolutely have to
Even though where I have to be can be considered in the eastern side of the downtown core near the lake, I will not be anywhere near the lake shore until the last point possible.  I will come 'down' through the city as opposed across the bottom.  A little out of my way, but the extra mileage will more than make up for the lost time.

3.) Closest alternate routes are not the best routes
Take the Gardiner closure for example.  Do you know how many people will be on Lakeshore Blvd, King Street, Queen Street The Queensway and Front Streets?  Pretty much everyone that can't get on the FGX.  So, think about the east west routes that are a little out of the way, but won't have nearly the traffic on them....St.Clair, Eglinton, Bloor.
DVP.  Don't use VicPark and Don Mills.  Use Yonge, McCowan.

4.) Be patient
It's going to be busy.  Accept it.  Don't be yelling at your steering wheel waving your arms like a seagull and holding your horn until it cacks out.  None of it works and quite look weird.

5.) Transit
The same traffic nightmare that catches everyone else also catches buses and streetcars.  Think subway and GOTrain.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Driving in the rain

Well, apparently Mother nature doesn't think that we've had enough rain this spring.  April showers bring May rain and probably June down pours at the rate we're going.

There is a lot of standing water on our roads and pathways and over the next couple of days, it is expected to get worse.  So here is a reminder about driving in wet weather.

Wet Weather Driving Tips
How you drive can obviously make a significant impact on wet-weather safety. Be alert to the situation around you, including what other drivers are doing and how they are reacting to conditions. One of the best ways to avoid collisions is to always be prepared for the actions of others that will affect you.
  • Leave yourself more time. Knowing that the drive will take longer prepare ahead of time by leaving for where you need to be earlier, don't try to make up time on the doesn't work and is very dangerous.
  • Slow down before you encounter a problem, and be aware that your tires less grip available for stopping, steering and accelerating. Remember: Even four-wheel-drive and anti-lock brakes can't change the laws of physics.
  • Never use your cruise control.
  • Even a new tire can begin to hydroplane on wet surfaces, so watch your speed. If the steering begins to feel light and the car is splashing through deep puddles, gently reduce your throttle to allow the car to slow to a more manageable speed. Don't lift off the gas pedal abruptly or hit the brakes, since this could unsettle the tires' grip on the wet surface.
  • Don’t drive your car through deep water on a flooded road. You simply cannot tell how deep the water is. It doesn't take much water to disable your vehicle or even float it off of the road surface. If you have any doubt about water depth, stop and go back the way you came.
  • Use the speeds on your windshield wipers to help remove the amount of water that is hitting the windshield. This sounds simple, but some people forget that at higher road speeds you need higher wiper speeds.
  • Be aware of the spray coming from passing trucks and oncoming cars. It may blind you temporarily, so anticipate this by turning on (or increasing the speed of) your wipers and by looking at what's happening to cars ahead of you.
  • Turn down the radio and turn off your cell phone. Driving in heavy rain demands greater attention.
  • If conditions become too intense, pull far off the road to a parking lot or side street and wait it out.
  • If you travel through deep standing water lightly apply your brakes for a moment to dry them.

Preparing Your Car
If you are serious about driving in wet conditions, there are several things you can do to prepare your car:
  • Make sure your wiper blades are like-new and that they still have a sharp wiping edge.
  • Clean your wiper blades by running a damp cloth along their edges from time to time to remove the build-up of oils and debris that the wipers have removed from the windshield.
  • Clean the interior and exterior glass surfaces of your vehicle.
  • If your windshield is heavily pitted, it might be time for a replacement. Nothing lets you see better than a new windshield.
  • Make sure that your headlights and taillights are working properly and that their lenses are clean and your turn on your full lighting package, not just day time running lights.
  • Make sure your tires are inflated to manufacturer's specifications and have sufficient tread. To measure the tread use the ‘Bluenose Test’: place a dime in the tire’s groove with the Bluenose’s Sails facing down . If you can see the top of the Bluenose mass and sails, then your tires have sailed long enough and needs replacing. However, this test will not work with performance or off-road tires.
Don't drive through standing water when pedestrians or cyclists are nearby.  It's bad enough getting wet because of the rain...getting a waterfall thrown at you is just cruel.
Be aware a cyclist may move out of the curb area due to standing water.  No one should drive into standing water for safety reasons, so give them room and know that it is their right as a vehicle on the road to occupy a full lane when necessary.

Be Safe
The biggest factor in safe wet-weather driving is you and your judgment. When visibility drops and the roads become flooded, only you can tell when it is time to pull off and take a break. Sure, it may take you a bit longer to reach your destination, but in the end, the few minutes spent to be safe will be worth it.

Alternatives to Driving
Public transit is the best choice to avoid the need for driving in wet weather. Leave the driving up to someone else.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Parking Offences

There always seems to be some confusion about what no parking actually means.  So let's see if we can clear some of this up.

There are three general on road offences that are regulated by sign.

No Parking
No parking means that you can stop your vehicle for the purpose of letting passengers in or out or dropping off / picking up packages.  This is short term.

No Standing
No standing means that you can stop your vehicle only for the purpose of letting passengers in or out of your car.  You'll find that most TTC Stops for example are in a no standing zone.

No Stopping

Pretty self explanatory.  You can't stop your car for any reason, except if directed by police, break down.

You have to look carefully at signs to determine allowable times since many areas will be governed by multiple signs.  An example of this is a rush hour route.  It may be OK to park in a specific area from 9:30am to 11:30am but then the area becomes a No Standing Zone until 1:30pm.  That same area may then become a No Stopping Zone at 3:30pm to 6:30pm.

Bicycle Lanes
Almost all of them that I have seen are in areas that are governed by No Stopping Signs.  This no stopping anytime regardless of how long or function. (See exceptions)  There is no specific charge for parking in a bike lane.  It falls to the no stopping offence.

Handicapped Spaces
Reserved for vehicles that bear a handicap permit that is visible.  The person that is named on the permit must be using it, or being transported in the vehicle.  In other words, if your elderly parents have a handicap permit and you are using their chauffeur, you can't use a designated space to shop at the mall unless they are physically with you.

Fire Routes
You may think it's no big deal to stop momentarily in them but they are allocated for the express purpose of fire vehicles to use for parking or for access.  Block a fire route and a ticket could be the least of your concerns.

Exemptions from Parking Rules
These are fairly obvious...Emergency Vehicles, (Ambulance, Fire, Police) and Public Works vehicles, all while in the course of their duties.

If your vehicle has received a parking infraction notice, your vehicle is eligible for a ride to a towing pound.  Rush hour routes...say good bye.  We work at keeping these free and clear to facilitate an optimum flow of traffic.
Relocation's occur from time to time for major events or emergency reasons.  Your vehicle won't be far, it's usually moved around the corner, a street over or across the street.  Just call 416-808-2222 and provide your licence plate number and we will be able to pinpoint the location for you.

Resources for more information

Toronto Police
(Caution on towing rates posted on this pdf...they may change. This is not the official rate notice)

City of Toronto

I'm sure there will be questions, so feel free to ask away.  I will answer them or direct you to the best resource for your answer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2010/2011 School Crossing Guard of the Year

The following note was read by the Toronto Police Services Board Chair, Dr. Alok Mukherjee to honour the 2010/2011 School Crossing Guard of The Year, Ms Lois Fulton.

Crossing Guard of the Year Award Presentation

"Each year we receive many nominations for the Crossing Guard of the Year Award. It is a very difficult task to choose just one person from all the nominations. All those who were nominated by their divisional co-ordinators should be very proud of their accomplishments.

Tonight we will honour a guard from 31 Division.

At the time of these incidents, Ms. Lois Fulton was employed by 31 division on a part time basis (Spare Guard). She was a guard for 15 years prior to taking some time off for medical reasons. She returned in 2009 on a part time basis, but is now employed on a full time basis working the intersection of Grandravine Dr. and Sentinel Rd.

There are three letters from the public describing the actions of this guard. Two of the letters describe the first situation at Grandravine and Sentinel, one from a witness and one from the victim’s mother. These letters are written by new Canadians who struggle with English, in one case the grandson (grade two, approx. seven years old helped with the letter, the mother of the victims also received help to write her letter). The fact that two people who struggle with the English language took the time to write these letters speaks to their passion with respect to the actions of this guard. The third letter is from the victim and describes the situation at Lawrence and Ralph.

In February Lois was working at the intersection of Grandravine and Sentinel. Two families approached the intersection, the witness with his seven year old grandson and the victim’s mother with her infant in a stroller and her twin four year olds boys.

On this day the twins were not listening to, or obeying their mother. They approached the intersection, the mother pushing the baby in the stroller. The boys ran off into the intersection. A car was approaching the intersection at a high rate of speed, the driver, while talking on a cell phone, did not stop at the stop sign. The childrens mother screamed, the guard ran out into the intersection, dropped her stop sign, scooped the boys up in her arms and ran them across the street. She slipped once but maintained her hold on the boys and then pushed them out of the way. The guard was now directly in the path of the oncoming car. The guard jumped and at the last second the driver saw her and swerved his car narrowly missing her. The mother continued to watch in horror and scream for the safety of her children and the crossing guard. The car continued very quickly through the intersection and no one was able to obtain a licence plate. The witness further advised that he saw this guard save two other children on two other dates, unfortunately no details of these events were given. Both the witness and the boys mother stated that they wanted this guard to remain at this intersection on a full time basis. They further stated that the guard takes the time to talk to the children and teach them how to safely cross the street and the importance of listening to their parents.

In April Lois was working at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Ralph St. Ms. (edited), an 80 year old woman who advises she is not in good health was crossing the street with her shopping buggy. Ms. (edited) advised that she is no longer able to care for herself so is moving in to live with her son. This incident occurred on April 14th and she was to move in with her son on April 16th.

As Ms. (edited) was crossing the street she stepped in a crack in the road, her hip gave out and she began to fall in the path of a large cement truck. Ms. (edited) advised that she did not have the ability to get out of the way and thought she was going to die. All of a sudden Lois ran to her and pulled her out of the way just in time. Ms. (edited) grocery buggy was not so lucky. As Ms. Ronston states it was “a small price to pay” for her life. Ms. Ronston states that Lois seems to genuinely care about the people she crosses as they both could have been killed.

All of the citizens in these incidents cannot praise Lois enough for her selfless acts of courage to save the lives of others without thoughts for her own safety.

(left to right) Superintendent Chris White, 31 Division, Lois Fulton, Dr. Alok Mukherjee.
Lois is the epitome of our Service Mission Statement and is truely making our city the best place to be by teaching safety to our youth one child at a time. She is helping with the Sevice Priority of pedestrian safety and displays the core values of reliability and positive attitude."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Traffic Safety Pop Quiz - The recap

Thanks to everyone who took part in the #TrafficSafety Pop Quiz today.  I hope that people were able to take away some value from it and that it encourages more cooperative road use between cyclists and motor vehicles.

I know there is a lot more information that could be covered, and over time it will be.  In the meantime, for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge or clarify anything, I have included some good resource links at the bottom of this post.

Here is a re-cap of the quiz:
Q1) What is the maximum tire size which allows a bicycle to be ridden on a sidewalk in Toronto.
A1) 61cm or 24 inches
Big problem with this is the intent of the law is to allow for younger/smaller children to learn to ride in a safe environment while they become accustomed to traffic laws and traffic safety.  It isn't to allow adults the opportunity to free wheel where pedestrians require a safety zone.  Even a child is taught to give way to the pedestrians, let them know you are coming and ride only as fast as you can safely manoeuvre.

Q2) Can a cyclist be charged with impaired driving?
A2) No.
The Criminal Code specifies a motor vehicle in the operation.  But, you can be charged/arrested for intoxicated in a public place, careless driving and any other offences that may be committed as a result of the impairment.

Q3) Can a cyclist be charged with operating an unsafe vehicle?
A3) Yes. 
All vehicles operated must meet safety requirements.  Those include brakes, steering, lighting, horn, general maintenance, frame integrity, tires and over-all road worthiness.

Q4) What is the responsibility of a driver when passing a bicycle?
A4) HTA 148(5) Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway who is overtaking another vehicle shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision with the vehicle overtaken, and the person overtaken is not required to leave more than one-half of the roadway free. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (5).
Bicycles overtaken
148(6) Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle to pass and the vehicle overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (6).

Q5) How far out from the edge of the roadway should a cyclist ride?
A5) Only as much as is practicable.
This may mean that from time to time a cyclist will travel in such a position that they prevent vehicles from over taking them.  This is lawful and often safer for the cyclist. (Passing parked cars, avoiding road debris, potholes, sewer grates, etc.) Drivers may pass a cyclist riding in this position ONLY if it is safe to do so AND they allow enough room to pass the cyclist.
Once the cyclist is able, they must then return to riding as close as practical to the edge of the roadway.

Q6) Could a bicycle helmet save your life in a collision or fall?
A6) Yes.
Last year Traffic Services attended a collision where a cyclist fell while riding in the path of a car.  The right side tires of the car ran over the cyclists head, which was in a helmet.  The helmet was cracked...the cyclist had a headache.
Helmets are designed to reduce potential head/brain injuries. There is no guarantee that by wearing one all injuries will be prevented, but there is a guarantee that by not wearing one you dramatically increase the potential for injury.

Q7) Do you have to stop at a stop sign when there is no traffic around that would be affected?
A7) Yes
HTA 136 136. (1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,

(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the intersection; and
(b) shall yield the right of way to traffic in the intersection or approaching the intersection on another highway so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard and, having so yielded the right of way, may proceed. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 136 (1).
It doesn't matter if there is any other traffic around...all must stop.  This includes cyclists and drivers!

Q8) What is the safest way to make a left turn in traffic on a bicycle?
A8) Two possible answers...proper shoulder checks, signals, movement, etc and proceed like any other vehicle on the road.  Our suggestion is to dismount from the right curb, cross the street as a pedestrian and then resume riding.  This is not only safer, but often faster.

Q9) If there is room available, is it ok to pass a right turning vehicle on the right side?
We have all heard the complaints that drivers don't look before turning, so why put yourself in that position.  When you see a car that you believe will be turning right (signals, slowing, edging to the right, waiting at an intersection/driveway) you should make your movement to move to the left and pass there.  The other option is to dismount and walk across the intersection as a pedestrian.  Yes it takes a little time, but it is a lot safer.  Passing on the right also goes against the cycling argument for a space cushion to the left...when you pass on the right, you are more than likely volunteering to give away that cushion and weakening a valid argument.

Q10) Is a cyclist required to ride within a bicycle lane when it is available?
A10) No.
The cycling lane is designated for cycling only.  Not fro drivers of motor vehicles to use or stop in.  But,  if a cyclist is keeping up with the flow of traffic or travelling faster than other vehicles, it is better for them to ride within the mutual use lanes.

A11) When a collision occurs on a highway, all persons involved directly or indirectly shall remain.  Does this include cyclists?
A11) Yes
200. (1) Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident shall,

(a) remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
(b) render all possible assistance; and
(c) upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police officer or to any witness his or her name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, motor vehicle liability insurance policy insurer and policy number, name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle and the vehicle permit number. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 200 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 16.

Highway Traffic Act

City of Toronto Cycling Information


Ontario Cycling Association

Toronto Police Bicylce Registration

Traffic Safety Pop Quiz - The rules

Today at 11am @TrafficServices will be doing a traffic safety quiz on Twitter.
(I will be turning off Twitter to Facebook posts as this does fill up people's walls)
On Twitter follow the hash tag #trafficsafety.

Please include that hash tag with your response or comments.

Questions will be identified as Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. answers should be #trafficsafety A1, A2, A3, etc.

At the end of the quiz, I will post resources and links for more information.

This quiz will consist of 11 questions. It will move fast, but I will try to give everyone time to respond if they wish.

Feel free to ask supplemental questions and I will attempt to answer those as well.

Please ReTweet (RT) any information that you find useful or relevant, including the #trafficsafety

As always, keep the answers clean and respectful.

The goal of this is to raise awareness with education for issues regarding road safety in the drive to reduce collisions, injury and death.

Thanks, have fun and see you there.

This is meant to be fun and educational so enjoy it!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My take on being a Shorty Award Finalist

I normally don't blog, tweet, post or like anything as Traffic Services that doesn't deal with, well...traffic. This will be a little different than the norm, but please keep reading.

The first time I ever saw a mention of a Shorty Award was last year around this time when the winners were being announced and a person I followed won.  I looked to see what they were and thought, "That's a great idea!"  And to be considered the "Oscars of Twitter" made them even more special.

A few months ago, I had fun nominating and supporting other people's nominations.  I was even fortunate enough to have a few nominations thrown my way, which was a surprise to me but I felt truly honoured to be thought of in that light.

Then the notification came that I was a finalist in the Connecting People Category presented by Nokia.  As my son would say, "I did not see that coming!"

What an incredible way to be thought someone who connects people.

My goal is to reduce collisions, injuries and death and using a tool like Twitter and Facebook to help do that has been a great experience for me.  Building bridges between the police and the community, the drivers and the cyclists, the pedestrians and the drivers has been an absolute blast.

Helping each road user group understand the specific needs or the other has been just as educational for me as I hope it has been for you.  Knowing that I have influenced people to think about traffic safety is awesome.

Nurturing relationships in a cyber world to the point they are as honest and true as a person to person environment has been so very rewarding.

Connecting one group to another through key people who can help and offer assistance about an issue has been unbelievably satisfying.

And I can't forget the real reason I am even being considered as a finalist in this awesome category...YOU.  You have allowed me to share my information.  You have listened to what I have had to say.  You have shared information with me.  You have shared information with others.  You have made the difference.  You have said that you had never given traffic safety a second thought until I shared it with you.

You have made our roads safer; you have made each other safer.

What do you know...I was able to make this about traffic ;)

So, winning or losing on Monday night really won't be that important because I have won so much already, because of you.

Thank you for that.

Finally to my fellow finalists.  @jaybumaom @amandapalmer @shannonmmiller @kyraocity @OneDegreeFromMe (Jay, Amanda, Shannon, Kyra and Paul)

Congratulations; for being nominated, becoming a finalist and winning already...because you have all been recognized for connecting people and that makes someones life, some where, some way a little better.

No matter what, on Tuesday I will still be asking, "How can I help you?"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Distracted Driving - Happy Valentines Day

Monday February 14th...HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

I really hope you have taken the time to tell the people in your life how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them.  After all, Valentines Day is the day to do it.  In reality, if someone means something special to should tell them every chance you can.

Now, I'm not a specialist in relationships, psychology, sociology or anything like that, so I won't continue on the "tell them you love them" rant.  I will say, there is a really good reason that I'm suggesting it though.  There is a significant chance, it could be the last time you ever see them alive.

Do you have any idea how many people around us are texting, talking emailing, reading, eating or doing any number of "ing" things while they are driv-ing?

I see it everyday driving around...people using a device that has nothing to so with the task of driving a car.  Call it what you want; distracted, multi-tasked, inattentive, ignorant, unsafe, uncalled for...just don't call it safe or acceptable.  And I'm not the only one who sees it.  You see it too.  You probably complain about it and look at others with disgust and contempt when you see it.

Then you hope like crazy no one sees you when you take that 'important call'.  You hold your phone strategically in your lap so you can glance at the screen when the 'life and death' text message comes in.  You justify that there is an incredible value to the email that you have been waiting much value you read it while travelling 120 km/h...that email has more value than your life, my life, or the lives of everyone else around you.

Since February 1, 2010, Ontario Police have been able to lay charges for distracted driving.  In Toronto that has meant 16,708 charges in one year.  (Feb 1, 2010 to Feb 1, 2011)

According to studies that have been done, a driver who is texting increases the chance of being in a crash 23 X.  A driver who is talking increases their risk 4 X.

So, my suggestion for Valentines Day this year along with every day leading up to it and everyday after it...tell the people that are special in your lives how much they mean to you.  With a lot of people around you risking your life, its only a matter of time before the odds catch up to you.

If you are one of the people who are driving distracted...then hopefully when you crash it will only be minor.  Could you imagine how you would feel the rest of your life if you were responsible for killing someone on the most romantic day of the year?

Take a few minutes to watch this video about the REALITY of distracted driving.

Feel free to day to take the No Phone Zone Pledge.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Driving Tips from Toronto Police

Special thanks to my partner, Hugh Smith for compiling the information contained in this press release.
If you have any other safe driving tips for winter, please add them in the comments section.

Following too close!
Winter driving tips
Toronto Police Service

Broadcast time:  2:14 PM
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Traffic services
416 808 1900

This will be the first Major winter storm of the season for the Toronto area. The heavy snowfall and blowing snow may cause whiteout conditions making for extremely hazardous driving conditions.
The public should be prepared to change plans accordingly to avoid unnecessary travel during the storm.

To ensure you are ready for the rest of the winter season, here are some reminders from the Toronto Police Service.

Driving – avoid any unnecessary trips.

  • Slow down and leave more space; driving slower allows more time for reaction and reduces stopping distances.
  • Look well beyond where you are travelling, and utilize your mirrors to be aware of your surroundings and other traffic.
  • Try to identify possible hazards well in advance.
  • Drive within your ability, as well as the vehicles limits and the equipment you have for the conditions.
  • Continually evaluate the need for driving, changing environmental conditions and road conditions.
  • You should avoid driving while wearing heavy boots, gloves and cumbersome coats. Carry these items with you. The size of these items can hinder your ability to feel the controls and limit your movement.


  • Tires: whether you are opting for winter, snow or all-season tires, ensure they are in good condition and are properly inflated.
  • Battery: have your vehicle's electrical system and battery level checked to ensure adequate cold weather starts.
  • Wipers: change worn or broken blades.
  • Washer fluid: reservoirs should be filled, and carry an extra container of fluid.
  • Booster cables: a set of cables is great insurance to help not only yourself, but others.
  • Snow brush/scraper: a long-handled brush, scraper or a broom, are essential for clearing your entire vehicle of snow and ice.


  • Pack a survival kit for the winter driving season
  • Include food, water, blankets, candles, lighter/matches, winter boots, gloves, and hats.

Traffic Services is dedicated to ensuring the safe and orderly movement of traffic within the City of Toronto. Stay informed with what’s happening at Traffic Services by following us on Twitter (TrafficServices), and Facebook (Toronto Police – Traffic Services), and the Blog.

Constable Hugh Smith, Traffic Services

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Traffic Safety Quiz on Twitter / Facebook

Today at 10am @TrafficServices will be doing a traffic safety quiz on Twitter and Facebook.
(Sorry for anyone whose wall gets filled by this, but hey, it's all in the name of public safety.

On Twitter follow the hash tag #trafficsafety.
Please include that hash tag with your response or comments.

Questions will be identified as Q1, Q2, Q3, etc.  answers should be #trafficsafety A1, A2, A3, etc.

At the end of the quiz, I will post resources and links for more information.

This is a 3 part quiz consisting of 15 questions.  It will move fast, but I will try to give everyone time to respond if they wish.

Feel free to ask supplemental questions and I will attempt to answer those as well.

Please ReTweet (RT) any information that you find useful or relevant.

As always, keep the answers clean and respectful.

The goal of this is to raise awareness with education for issues regarding road safety in the drive to reduce collisions, injury and death.

Thanks, have fun and see you there.

This is meant to be fun and educational so enjoy it!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Future Wish List for Vehicle Safety

Last week's post was the response to me asking people via Twitter and Facebook what present safety features on vehicles they thought were the most important.  This week, the question was modified slightly:

Once again, there were a lot of comments from you that were great ideas.  They broke down into two basic categories though.
Drivers and Vehicles

And there is no way in the world I can argue with either category or the suggestions made.   Mainly because from a traffic safety stand point, they made sense and they were your opinions.

So lets look at them:
Better Skill
Annual Testing
Better Training
Pay Attention
Emotionally Stable
Common Sense
More Education
Working Brain
Advanced Training

Better Automated Lighting Systems
Winter / Snow Tires in Winter
Ignition Interlock
Radar Warning System for Objects Ahead
Proximity Alarms
Full Harness Seat belts
Roll Cages
Red Light Closing Warning
Cell / Wifi / 3G / 4G Signal Blockers
Speed Alarms (Transponders on speed signs)
Blind Spot Alarms
Pedal Extensions
Foam Stuff from Demolition Man
Emergency Vehicle Warning System
Amber Rear Turn Signals
Infra Red Warning System for Night Time Driving

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can be done from both a driver and vehicle aspect that could make our roads safer.

Some of the vehicle things that I would love to see are the signal jammers which wouldn't allow for cell phone, text, email, video signals to be sent or received in a vehicle.  (Naturally the exception being a 911 outbound call).  Ignition interlocks that would not allow a vehicle to be started if alcohol is detected from the driver. Proximity alarms for blind spots and rear area would be a nice touch also.  I'd also really like to see speed limiters.

My concern with all the technology though is that there is a real distinct possibility that drivers would start to rely too much on the technology convenience and forget the skills that are required for safe operation.  If the technology ever failed, you'd still want a driver that can operate a vehicle safely.

So, onto the driver.

Many of the things mentioned to make drivers better, therefore roads safer are already available.  Advanced driving courses, skill development training and specialized equipment (snow tires, better seat belts) are all things that each individual is capable of doing on their own or making the decisions to have them done.

Sober, attentive, aware, non-distracted drivers have made choices to be that way.  Those are choices available to each and everyone of us.  We would probably rather have everyone make a choice to put their smart phones, lap tops and music players in the glove box or trunk before they head out driving as opposed to a new law saying it has to be that way.

Like I said last time, all the best equipment in the world won't make any vehicle safer until a driver has adopted the proper skills, knowledge and abilities to use that equipment properly and displays the right behviour at all times.  The behaviour that says, "Road safety is every one's responsibility and I'm going to do my part."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Safety Features on Vehicles

Last Friday I asked for your input on Twitter and Facebook the following question.

In total there were 21 different responses.  That’s amazing.  What is even more amazing is that the vast majority of the safety features that you brought up have been added to vehicle design in the last generation or so.

When I look at the list that you put together it has become clear that the changes to the design of vehicles have come at a heavy price…the multiple deaths of people both inside and outside the vehicle.

It has been because of those deaths that many of the advancements in vehicle design have come to be.

Here is the complete list:
Collision detection radar
Anti lock brakes
Electronic stability control / traction control
Dynamic head restraints
Crumple zones
Energy absorbing materials
Child safety seats
Side impact beams
Back up sensors
Child locks

The number one answer given was seatbelts followed in order by, airbags, brakes, headlights and tires.

I’m going to focus on a few of the items that you are in complete control of.  You can’t do much about crumple zones, side impact beams or energy absorbing materials.  For those, we should thank the manufacturers for placing those items into the design of vehicles

Seatbelts – 1976 it became mandatory for the use of seatbelts.  Since that time deaths have been decreasing. There is no arguing their importance.  Still some people don’t wear them.

Anti-lock brakes / Brakes – These are a given.  But so many people rely on them alone for getting them out of trouble.  Proper following distance will extend the life of your brakes.

Lights / Signals– Daytime running lights were a great addition to the safety features of lighting. Most systems only turn on the headlights though and don’t activate the taillights in inclement weather conditions.  Make sure you flip your entire system on for best visibility.  Signaling (including the horn) is the only way you can communicate with the outside word of what your intentions are.  We get along on the roads so much better when we all know what is going on with each other.

Tires – Most people have no idea how small the area of contact is that attaches your vehicle to the road.  Making sure that your tires are in great condition, at the proper pressure and have adequate tread depth is so important.

Everything in the list that you all added are all great safety features.  Here is the last one that I will talk about…the driver.

A few of you mentioned the driver as a present safety feature.  In my humble opinion, this is the most important safety feature.  It doesn’t matter what safety equipment you have.  How much your car cost or how incredible the features are.

The driver’s attitude, behaviour and ability are truly what makes the difference in terms of road safety.   Great drivers obey the laws, drive within the limits of the road, the vehicle and the equipment.  Great drivers respect other road users.  Give me a great driver with ‘bad’ equipment any day over a bad driver with the best equipment.  Great drivers understand that even with their own great abilities, other drivers don’t share the same skill so they are ready for the errors of others.

Thank you all for your input into this list.  Use all your safety equipment available.  Drive within the limits of conditions (road, weather and ability) and be a great road user.