TIMMINS -- During this year's Canada Road Safety Week, Timmins police patrol officers are using a new tool to help keep the motoring public safe.

It's a device that, when it's attached to a tinted window, can test the level of transparency.

Police officials said they are noticing a trend in the city: more vehicles have their windshields and compartment windows heavily tinted to the point it's a safety hazard.

"Everyone should be able to make eye contact with a driver so pedestrians (and) cyclists are aware they are being seen by a driver," said Const. Christopher Gauthier of the Timmins Police Service.

If a tint level is too high, a driver can get a minimum fine of $110. So far, police have charged five people with the offence.

“From an officer safety perspective, we want to be able to see in the vehicle, identify who’s in the vehicle and see if anything illicit or nefarious is going on," said Marc Depatie, communications coordinator with the Timmins Police Service.

Timmins police perform a broad range of vehicle stops and officials said their personal safety is being tested.

They said dark windows make them feel anxious because they can't see who they're approaching during a stop. They said they are frequently finding weapons inside vehicles and have recently arrested suspected drug dealers from southern Ontario who ended up testing positive for COVID-19.

National safety initiative

Canada Road Safety Week is a national traffic safety initiative led by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and is held May 18-24.

This campaign is part of the broader Canada's Road Safety Strategy 2025, which aims to make Canada's roads the safest in the world. The campaign is focused on behaviours that put drivers, passengers, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users most at risk, including: impaired driving, lack of seatbelt use, aggressive driving (including speeding) and distracted driving.

“So those types of things are all behaviours that people can change and you have to realize that there’s every year we lose hundreds of people to vehicle fatalities," said Sgt. Carlo Berardi of the Ontario Provincial Police.

According to OPP statistics, since 2016, there have been 186 fatalities from motor vehicle collisions in the northeast region alone.