Law & Order

March ice conditions can be deceptive and variable

The Ministry of Natural Resources reminds anglers and snowmobilers that ice conditions can be deceptive at this time of year and to exercise extreme caution when venturing out.

Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers. This can be hazardous at the start and end of the winter season when near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice further out. Check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you move further out on the ice.

Not all ice is created equal. Ice that has formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.

Clear blue ice is the strongest. White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice that has a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided.

Travelling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can be dangerous and precautions must be taken. At least 20 centimetres (eight inches) of clear blue ice is required for snowmobiles and 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more is needed for most light vehicles. This thickness should be doubled if the ice is white or opaque.

Heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow the freezing process.

Before venturing out check ice conditions with local ice hut operators or other anglers and let others know where you’re planning to fish and when you plan to return. Appropriate clothing and equipment are critical to safety and comfort. Many anglers wear floatation suits and carry a set of ice picks.


Routine traffic stop leads to arrest and charges

On Friday, March 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm, the Manitoulin Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was on routine patrol with moving radar on Highway 6 in the Whitefish River First Nation when a vehicle entered the moving radar at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was pulled over and upon checking the driver he was arrested for impaired driving, while being taken into custody he resisted arrest.

As a result of the investigation the driver, a 31-year-old male of Hastings was charged with the following: impaired operation of a motor vehicle contrary to the Criminal Code (CC); failing to provide a breath sample contrary to the Criminal Code (CC) and resist arrest of a Peace Officer contrary to the Criminal Code (CC).

The accused was released on a Promise to Appear to attend before the Ontario Court of Justice in Gore Bay on Monday, April 27 to answer to his charges.


Distracted driving campaign begins

The Province of Ontario has deemed Saturday, March 14 through to Friday, March 20 as Distracted Driving Week. Members of the Manitoulin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be stepping up enforcement in support of this initiative.

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving. Some types of distractions include: adjusting the stereo, searching for something in the car, eating or drinking while driving, using a hand-held device, grooming, watching television or other entertainment devices, tending to children in the back seat and more.

The law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, and dial or email using hand-held cell phones, or other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. ‘Hands-free’ means that the device is not held during use and the driver is not physically interacting with or manipulating it. Actions such as dialing or scrolling through contacts, or manually programming a GPS device, for example, are illegal.

Text messaging requires:

  • Visual attention – taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual attention – taking your hands off the wheel, and
  • Cognitive attention – taking your mind off what you are doing

Many drivers today tend to view driving as a simple everyday task that requires minimal attention. The reality is that driving is a complex task that requires your full attention. Remember, you are operating a heavy piece of machinery at high speeds, navigating in diverse weather conditions, while calculating speeds and distance plus always responding to other drivers and obstacles.

The dangers of distracted driving are real and the evidence speaks for itself. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. The fine for using hand-held phones or entertainment devices while driving is $280 including the victim surcharge and court fee. Drivers who drive without due care and attention and allow themselves to be distracted by other activities can also be charged with the more serious offence of Careless Driving, depending on the circumstances. All distractions while driving endanger lives. No one should lose their life or suffer serious injury because a driver was not devoting his or her full attention to the road.