School zones have gotten much busier now that summer vacation has ended and drivers are reminded to watch out for children and obey the school zone laws.
To help people ease back into the routine, members of Leduc’s Municipal Integrated Traffic Unit were posted in school zones on Sept. 2 and following days to keep an eye on traffic flow and driver habits.
RCMP Cst. Christopher Mosley says the unit is also speaking with schools to identify individual traffic issues they face as a way to pinpoint problems and narrow enforcement strategies.
Cst. Mosley briefly met with Linsford Park School principal Ann Oppermann on Sept. 2. She says the school is using a new student drop-off and bus loading system this year.
Oppermann hopes the new system, which includes a clearly marked bus zone will keep the parking lot and student areas safer.
In previous years she says vehicles were weaving around the parking lot and drivers were backing out as others continued to drive through. “It was a nightmare looking for something to happen.”
Oppermann says drivers running stop signs is another problem she sees. “It’s people want to be in and out as soon as possible.”
The traffic unit wants to pinpoint the specific problems that plague areas so members are not wasting time enforcing one violation when it is not the issue at hand.
Last year Leduc did not have a traffic unit and Cst. Mosley says patrolling school zones was more sporadic. “The system last year was ‘anything goes.’”
The Municipal Integrated Traffic Unit started July 1, 2015 and consists of two RCMP officers and one community peace officer.
During a foot patrol around Linsford Park School a mother approached to inform Mosley of a nearby crossing that was an issue for her daughter and a fright for her, as drivers sped through and failed to stop.
Cst. Mosley says it is taking the time to gather intelligence to hone in on a problem affecting a certain area of the city or people coming and reporting the problem that helps, as officers cannot enforce what they are not aware of.
He added that people not obeying bus lights and signs is one of the most prevalent and serious issues he sees regarding schools and drivers, whether it be failing to stop at all or passing before it is safe. “You can’t pass until the lights go down and the sign comes in.”
Infractions involving school buses offer some of the heaviest traffic fines, up to $200 more than driving with a cell phone or failing to stop at a stop sign.
Failing to stop for the flashing red lights is a $502 ticket and six demerits, passing before it is safe is $465 and three demerits.
The goal of the Municipal Integrated Traffic Unit is to increase road safety, and to reduce the number of injury collisions within the City of Leduc through a combination of awareness, prevention and enforcement.