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Stunt Driving is on the Rise and Here’s What the Government is Doing About It

Increasingly more drivers in Ontario have been engaging in excessive speeding and street racing

Two cars are shown racing at night on a purple background

Since Covid-19 lockdown measures first began in March 2020, police have seen a significant surge in speeding and street racing—both of which can have serious consequences.

The Ministry of Transportation defines stunt driving as driving in excess of 50 km/h over the speed limit. It can also include dangerous or aggressive driving behaviours, such as doing doughnuts and street racing. It also encompasses road rage, which includes intentionally not letting someone pass, intentionally following too closely or cutting another vehicle off.

Dangerous driving

Constable Todd Snooks has seen a lot of speeding drivers in his day. But last year, one motorist in Vaughan, Ont. made even the veteran of the York Regional Police shake his head.

That driver was caught going 194 km/hour in a 60 km/hour zone near the intersection of Jane Street and Teston Road.

“It’s shocking,” says Snooks, who calls the offence “egregious.” 

It was the highest speed recorded in York Region in 2020 and emblematic of what road safety advocates say has been an epidemic of speeding and dangerous driving since the start of the pandemic.

Speeding is on the rise

Between March and August 2020, about 7,400 Ontarians had their licences suspended for stunt driving, which covers everything from street racing to driving more than 50 km/hour above the speed limit. That’s more than 50 percent higher than the same period in 2019 according to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. At the same time, there was a 65 percent jump in collisions that involved speeding.

“It’s shocking and disappointing that some people seem to feel that because there are fewer cars on the road during the pandemic, that gives them the right to speed and drive dangerously,” says Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's transportation minister. “There is no place on our roads for anyone who endangers the lives of others.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a rash of speed-related collisions among drivers ages 16 to 25, Mulroney says. The Ministry of Transportation has been reaching out to younger motorists—particularly on social media—to remind them of the dangers of reckless driving. The ministry is also exploring “measures to further curb” aggressive driving, she says.

Severe legal penalties for stunt driving

The penalties for stunt driving can be severe. Drivers face an immediate seven-day licence suspension and police will impound their vehicle for a week. If convicted, they can face a fine up to $10,000 and have their licence suspended for up to 10 years. In the most severe cases, stunt driving can lead to jail time.

Along with those consequences, drivers could see their insurance premiums skyrocket or find that insurers won’t cover them at all.

There is also the potential danger of seriously injuring or killing someone, says Raymond Chan, manager of government relations with CAA South Central Ontario.

“There could be some devastating consequences as a result of excessive speeding or stunt driving,” he warns. 

With summer just around the corner, Chan says it’s vital that drivers curb their impulse to speed or drive dangerously.

“We’re going to see more traffic, more pedestrians and more cyclists once the warmer weather is upon us,” he says. “It’s important for all of us to keep each other safe.”

In York Region, Snooks says police have stepped up their campaign against stunt driving. They’re working with police forces across the Greater Toronto Area to break up street racing meets and using helicopter support to nab speeding drivers.

“You’re not getting to where you want to go faster when we’re seizing your vehicle and taking your licence,” Snooks says. “Living with the aftermath is not worth the thrill of the moment.”

Learn More

Learn how CAA is advocating for safer streets for all road users, including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Image Credits: 5m3photos/Getty Images