|A photo that appears to be Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reading documents while driving on a busy Toronto freeway was posted on Twitter Tues, Aug. 14, 2012. (Twitter)
TORONTO - Toronto Police have joined a chorus urging Mayor Rob Ford to get a personal driver.
A photo posted to Twitter Tuesday shows what appears to be the mayor reading papers while behind the wheel of his new black Cadillac on the Gardiner Expressway.
And while police say the province's distracted driving legislation only applies to electronics — thereby making legal to eat, drink and read behind the wheel — police aren't condoning such behaviour.
"On behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr. Mayor ... please get a driver," reads a post on Toronto Police's Facebook Tuesday afternoon.
"It is obvious that you are busy enough to require one and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens."
The user who posted the photo, Ryan G. Haughton, later tweeted that it was "taken around 10 a.m. while on the (Gardiner) and traffic was moving at about 70 km/h heading eastbound.”"
When asked about the picture at a press conference Tuesday, Ford replied: "Yeah, probably. I'm busy."
"I'm trying to catch up on my work and, you know, I keep my eyes on the road, but I'm a busy man."
Const. Clinton Stibbe of Traffic Services said police cannot lay a charge simply because a motorist is reading while driving.
"If an incident occurs because that object you may have in your hands drops and you try and pick it up and lose control of the motor vehicle, that can be taken into consideration as part of the charge being issued of careless driving," he said.
"Right now, all we see is a picture of him holding a paper in his hand. There's no indication there was any excessive speed or erratic driving reactions. It's not something we can condone, but it's not something that's chargeable at this point."
The mayor's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said he has previously brought up the need for a driver.
"I've always said he needs a driver — but that's up to Rob," Ford insisted.
The Canadian Automobile Association said while it hasn't conducted studies on the impact of reading and driving, it is likely comparable to statistics with texting and driving.
Drivers who text behind the wheel are 23 more times likely to be involved in a crash and drivers who talk on a cellphone are four to five more likely to be involved in a collision.
"Individuals who are not paying attention to the roads are playing Russian roulette with themselves and with other passengers and others on the roads," said Elliott Silverstein, manager of CAA government relations.
"Whether that'd be texting or cellphones or any type of distraction, you're taking your eyes off the road and putting in danger themselves and for a lot of others."
The mayor has previously come under fire for allegedly driving past the open doors of a streetcar.
Last year, a woman accused the mayor of giving her and her daughter the middle finger after she allegedly saw him talking on his cellphone while driving and told him to hang up.
-- With files by Sue-Ann Levy