The Niagara Regional Police Service conducted its 19th annual back to school traffic safety and awareness day on Tuesday. This enforcement day coincides with the first day of school for the majority of the children in the Niagara Region.
Once again, officers attended dozens of school zones in Niagara, with the primary focus on crossing guard and student safety. Officers mostly looked for offending drivers who were speeding, driving while distracted, not wearing their seat belts, who disobeyed a crossing guard and who failed to stop for a school bus.
Each year, senior officers and those who work in specialty units who are not regularly assigned to uniform patrol duties, put on their uniforms and head out to the local schools to take part in this traffic safety and awareness day. In addition to the general uniform patrol, another 57 officers took part in the initiative this year.
New to the Niagara Region this year are two Community Safety Zones. The first is located at St. Davids Public School, located at 1344 York rd. in St. Davids and the second at Twenty Valley Public School, located at 4057 Victoria Ave. in Vineland. Officers were present at both of these schools handing out information cards explaining the details about these Community Safety Zones. Police will continue to attend these locations during school hours over the next couple of weeks to inform the public about these new changes. Any driver that is stopped and charged with an offence within these designated areas will be faced with increased fines. If speeding is the offence, then the fine will double.
Also beginning this first day of school, the Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) will now have school buses that will be equipped with video cameras for both the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board. For the first few weeks of the school year, 10 buses will be equipped with video cameras that will provide video evidence to the Niagara Regional Police to support a complaint that is filed from a bus driver. The driver or the registered owner of the vehicle could be issued a ticket, if the driver disobeys a stopped school bus with red overhead flashing lights activated. By the end of November, NSTS hopes to have 100 buses outfitted with these video cameras.
The officers that participated in this project advised that most of the motorists were driving appropriately in and around the school zones; however there were still several tickets and warnings that were issued. In total, 73 tickets were issued and 89 warnings were given out. Of the tickets issued, 45 were for speeding, 2 were for distracted driving, 2 for not wearing a seatbelt and 24 for other various Provincial offences.
Members of the Niagara Regional Police Service will continue to conduct traffic safety programs in school zones throughout the entire school year, by targeting aggressive and distracted drivers. The Niagara Regional Police Service wish to remind all drivers to be alert, drive with caution and be aware of their surroundings, especially in the area of schools and other educational facilities.
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