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As first snowfall leaves county residents worried about dangerous driving, OPP say the problem is getting worse

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While the snowfall may be a pleasant sight for people who enjoy the winter, the change in weather only heightens the worry that some residents who live along county roads and highways are feeling.

You can get out of your driveway and then, all of a sudden, there's a car or pickup right behind you and passing you," said Judy Ahlstedt who lives along Highway 77 in Leamington. "It's gotten way out of control."

Dangerous driving is a far too common sight in the area where she lives, Ahlstedt said. But, according to Essex County OPP, speeding hasn't been the only issue.

Prior to Essex County receiving its first batch of snow on Nov. 27, impaired driving has been an increasing problem throughout the region.

By the end of October 2022, Essex County OPP had issued 100 impaired driving charges. By the same time this year, that number spiked to 155.

"It's not just the cannabis. We're seeing a lot of opiates, with people driving on prescription medication and not realizing that they shouldn't be," said OPP Const. Steven Duguay.

Impaired driving has been attributed to four charges that were issued by Essex County OPP in a 72-hour span.

On Nov. 22, a 30-year-old Lakeshore man was charged with driving while impaired on drugs and alcohol.

Over the next two days, three others were charged for driving with a blood alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit.

"There's life-altering changes that can that can occur if you get stopped for impaired driving," said Duguay, pointing to the by-products of a collision such as injuring or killing someone, being slapped with fines and rising insurance costs.

"There's so many factors that people should be taking into consideration. It's all about keeping everybody safe on the roads and making it home safely to your family and friends."

OPP advise anyone who believes dangerous driving is a reoccurring problem in the area where they live to immediately report it to police so officers can visit the scene.

As for Ahlstedt, she said the residential portion of Highway 77 where she lives has become a "death trap."

"My neighbor has a four-year-old child that goes to kindergarten. It's scary. There's been times the bus goes to stop and people still assume they can go flying by," said Ahlstedt, adding drivers will "go flying by" at 100 km/h.

The speed limit where she lives is 60 km/h.

"I know the police can't be everywhere. It's not their fault. They come after the fact because they can't be everywhere. It's just that something has to be done. Something has to be done." she added. 

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