Narrow escape for Ont. traffic enforcement officer

Incident involving impaired driver who fled accident scene illustrates dangers faced daily by public employees on Canada's highways.

Scugog (25 Nov. 2010) - An enforcement officer with the Ontario transport ministry was clipped by a drunk driver on Nov. 17 as he was checking out a commercial vehicle on Highway 7A, near Blackstock, Ont.

Jordan Whynot, a member of the Ontario Public Service Employment Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), was treated at Port Perry hospital for a shoulder injury and later released. He could easily have been killed in the incident, which illustrates the dangers faced every day by public employees who serve as traffic enforcement officers.

The vehicle that struck Whynot, a Humvee, left the scene and was later pulled over near Port Perry, where Durham and OPP officers happened to be preparing for the launch of their annual festive RIDE program to get drunk drivers off the roads.

Thomas Martin, 49, of Blackstock, was charged with a series of offenses including impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving, breach of recognizance, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, driving while suspended, having no insurance and driving with an expired validation tag.

Edie Strachan, president of OPSEU Local 506, which represents enforcement officers employed by the transportation ministry, says the Humvee driver should also have been charged under Section 159 of the Highway Traffic Act, which requires motorists to slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle.

Strachan has contacted Whynot's regional manager to request that the additional charge be considered and added to those already being faced by the driver.

The OPP says 49 people have been killed so far this year on OPP-patrolled highways - a 6.5% jump from 2009 figures.

"We see this sort of thing day in and day out," notes Sgt. Dave Woodford. "We're not just focusing RIDE on one particular time of year. It happens year round."

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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