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Nation-wide police blitz targets the ‘big four’ sins of bad driving

Another long weekend, another nation-wide police blitz targeting reckless, sometimes deadly drivers.

Ask Sergeant Dave Woodford of the Ontario Provincial Police if the roadblocks and occasional spotter plane make much of a dent in the carnage and he will tell you they do.

"Go back 10 years or so, we'd be seeing be 10 or 11 fatalities at Thanksgiving (on OPP-patrolled roads)," he said.

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"Last year we had only four. That's four too many, but we have seen a reduction over the years, and a lot of it has to do with these initiatives. It's to do with awareness and education, people have to be reminded of things."

Operation Impact is launched every Thanksgiving, and is the only annual coast-to-coast traffic-safety initiative, deploying provincial police, municipal officers and the RCMP.

The OPP's contribution began Friday morning on Hwy 400, which connects Toronto to Barrie and points north.

So what are police looking for?

"We're focusing on what we call the big four," Sgt. Woodford said. "Aggressive driving, drinking and driving, seat belts and distracted driving."

Of the 258 fatalities on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year, more than 200 stemmed from one or more of those factors, and that total is 16 per cent higher than at this time in 2011.

Sgt. Woodford hopes that's a short-term blip. But some drivers, he says, still don't get it.

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While impaired-driving statistics continue their long, slow decline, other bad habits die hard, particularly distracted driving, which more often than not means texting.

But even with seat belts, he said - mandatory Canada-wide for 37 years – plenty of drivers still ignore the law.

The Thanksgiving campaign runs from Friday until Monday night.

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