On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Niagara Regional Police Service conducted its 21st annual back to school traffic safety and awareness day. The goal of this worthwhile initiative is to remind drivers about safe driving habits that can help to protect the lives of citizens in Niagara.
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 45 officers took part in the initiative.
Once again this year, the primary focus was speed enforcement in the 12 Community Safety Zones. The purpose of a Community Safety Zone is to modify driver behaviour and improve safety on certain sections of road where public safety is of special concern. The fines for offences committed in Community Safety Zones are increased and speeding fines are doubled. None of the rules of the road change within the zone, only the penalties.
With the return of back to school, the student buses have also resumed service. The Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) have over 100 school buses that are equipped with video cameras for both the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board. Drivers passing a school bus that is stopped with the stop arm extended, is an offence. Video evidence will be sent to the Niagara Regional Police and if there are grounds to support a charge, then the offence will be mailed to their last known address.
For the officers that participated in the initiative this year, many of them advised that the majority of the drivers were driving cautiously around the school zones. This year a total of 85 tickets and warnings were issued. There were 42 tickets issued for speeding, two for distracted driving, two for not properly wearing their seatbelts and one for passing a stopped school bus. There were also 15 tickets issued for other various traffic offences and a total of 23 written warnings. In addition to these charges, two drivers were arrested for impaired driving and two additional drivers were charged with driving while under suspension.
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.