A driver who was captured on helicopter surveillance video doing donuts and driving 180 km/h on a highway shoulder earlier this month is just one of many reckless driving incidents police say they are seeing in York Region.
Now, police say they are launching an anti-street racing blitz that will work with other police agencies in the Greater Toronto Area to crack down on stunt driving and street racing.
In the video, which York police released on Wednesday, investigators say a 19-year-old driver can be seen on May 12, driving a car without licence plates and doing donuts in an industrial area near Highway 7 and the rail yard in Vaughan.
The man can then be seen driving 180 km/h on the shoulder of Highway 400 and allegedly performing manoeuvres to escape police. He eventually pulls into a condo parking garage on Baker Hill Boulevard and runs off before he is caught by officers and taken into custody.
On Wednesday, York police announced they will be launching an anti-street racing blitz that will use the force's helicopter to help officers on the ground watch for vehicles preparing to race, as well as vehicles "travelling at excessive rates of speed and vehicles that do not meet safety standards."
York Police Insp. Ian Hill said excessive speed continues to be a major factor in many fatal collisions in the region.
"Utilizing helicopters, unmarked vehicles and the deployment of specially trained officers, our mission is to change this aggressive and dangerous driver behaviour," Hill said at the launch of the project in Stouffville, Ont. Wednesday.
Street racing, stunt driving on the rise
Hill said reckless road behaviour has been increasing since the beginning of the pandemic when roads and parking lots were unused and empty due to lockdown measures.
Since then, York police and other GTA police agencies have seen an increase of drivers gathering in large groups for car meets, parades and racing activities, Hill added.
In 2021 there were 74 such arrests in York Region. Police said they laid 68 criminal charges, 510 Highway Traffic Act charges and had 65 vehicles impounded.
Police said that around this time of year, modified vehicles "begin to roll out on the roads and some drivers seem to think that they can use our streets as their personal racetrack.
"Aggressive driving and street racing are dangerous, unlawful activities which put innocent people at risk of injury or death," a news release issued Wednesday reads.
"The real finish line for these drivers may be court, fines, jail, vehicle seizure, a loss of driving privileges or even worse, the hospital or the morgue."