Street racing crackdown comes as police face 'ludicrous' speeds on local roads

Gatineau police issued 36 charges against drivers during a planned crackdown on street racers Friday night. (Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Gatineau police issued 36 charges against drivers during a planned crackdown on street racers Friday night. (Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada - image credit)

They were two troubling videos, police say.

One showed a man driving a staggering 328 km/h on Highway 417. In the other, he'd slowed slightly to 294 km/h, blowing past traffic near the Bayshore Shopping Centre around 10 p.m. one Friday night.

It took a year-long investigation, but police eventually charged a man in his mid-20s with dangerous driving and dangerous operation of a vehicle, said Const. Phil Kane with Ottawa police's traffic and escort unit.

The videos weren't shared by a concerned onlooker or captured by a security camera. The man, Kane said, had been posting them online himself — something police say is happening much more frequently across North America.

"People have social media, so they're seeing people in L.A., Chicago, Vancouver and Toronto posting their stunt driving escapades and they want to emulate it here," Kane said.

"The speeds are absolutely ludicrous."

Police target organized racers in Gatineau

Two separate incidents Friday underscore the growing problem, one police are worried could become much worse.

That night, Radio-Canada got a behind-the-scenes look at a crackdown by Gatineau, Que., police targeting street racers near the city's airport.

A team of officers took to the streets near the airport to send a message that any type of racing wouldn't be tolerated. They used a drone to monitor the area from a distance before descending on a large gathering near boulevard Industriel and boulevard de l'Aéroport.

Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada
Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada

In all, police said there were around 250 people with 125 vehicles. Officers handed out 36 tickets for everything from street racing to having a modified vehicle.

Two vehicles were seized.

"The situation in the industrial district had become such that taking action became essential," Andrée East, media relations officer with Gatineau police, told Radio-Canada.

"We are talking about vehicles that came to race, vehicles that are revving their engines. It's noisy, it's disturbing for the neighbourhood, in addition to being dangerous," she said.

Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada
Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada

That same day in Ottawa, several people suffered minor injuries in a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 417 near the Parkdale Avenue exit.

One person had to be extricated from a vehicle that had rolled onto its roof.

OPP told CBC they're still investigating what led to the crash, but that witnesses reported seeing vehicles speeding.

Pandemic-deserted roads a big draw, Kane says

In 2018, Ottawa police issued 150 stunt driving charges, Kane said. That increased to 691 in 2021 — and the pandemic may be partly to blame, he said.

"With COVID hitting, there [were fewer] people on the roads. So that created wider, open roads," he said.

"In the last five years, we're up at about 2,300 stunt driving charges. And that's just Ottawa police."

There's also the Fast and the Furious film series with the latest iteration of the pedal-to-the-metal franchise currently in theatres.


While police are anticipating drivers will try to emulate the film, Kane said the problem isn't likely to be as bad as when the franchise first started.

On both sides of the river, police do share one message in common.

"At the very least, you don't want a knock at the door with one of us coming there to inform you that a loved one has been killed," said Kane.