POLITICS

Toronto mayor declines personal driver, calls it a waste of money

08/21/2012 04:42 EDT | Updated 10/21/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Toronto's mayor, who recently raised eyebrows when he was spotted reading behind the wheel, says he won't be getting a personal driver.

Rob Ford told local reporters the expense of a chauffeur would be a "waste of tax payers' money."

He estimates a private driver would add up to $60,000 to the municipal tab and says he's been against the cost ever since he was offered a driver upon first taking office.

Ford has come under fire in recent years both for reading a newspaper and using his cellphone while driving.

Ford's brother, who serves on city council, previously said that there was a plan to get the mayor a driver.

Ford has said he uses his morning commute to keep pace with his busy work schedule.

Calls for Ford to hire a chauffeur have intensified since pictures posted on Twitter last week showed him reading a document while driving on one of the city's busiest downtown thoroughfares.

Ford didn't deny the accusation, but said he was able to keep his eye on the road while he read.

Toronto police issued a statement on the force's official Facebook page saying they could not lay charges against the mayor, since Ontario's distracted driving legislation applies only to electronic devices.

The statement, however, urged Ford to reconsider his position on personal drivers.

"On behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr. Mayor...please get a driver,'' the post said.

"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.''

It's not the first time Ford's driving has come under scrutiny.

He clashed with a Toronto Transit Commission driver last month after allegedly driving past a streetcar's open doors, and was accused last year of talking on his cellphone while behind the wheel.

A woman who reported the cellphone incident alleges the mayor made a rude gesture at her when she told him to hang up, but Ford maintains that wasn't the case.

He hasn't been fined or charged in either incident.