Officers however conducting school bus enforcement were very surprised to see a number of motorists failing to stop.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the Niagara Regional Police Service conducted its 16th annual back to school traffic safety and awareness day. The project coincides with the return to school for most of the Regions' school children. In addition to the usual speed and distracted driving enforcement, members of the Niagara Regional Police wanted to focus more on the safety of children and crossing guards. This year, officers were directed to follow specific school buses and to attend crossing guard locations to ensure compliance with newly amended legislation. Subsequently, this day will be known as "Back to School Children and Road Safety Day", formally known as "All Hands on Deck".
On this day, approximately 65 officers, including Executive Staff, Detectives and officers from several specialty units, assisted with this initiative. Officers were assigned to locations throughout the entire region, covering all of the 12 municipalities. Some officers were assigned to speed enforcement in school zones, where the others attended specific crossing guard locations or were assigned to a specific school bus to follow to ensure compliance. Most officers began their day at 6:00 a.m where they attended each of the 6 Police Districts to conduct their smaller briefings. Most of the enforcement occurred between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Throughout the day, officers stopped over 230 vehicles for various Highway Traffic Act offences, of which 121 Provincial Offence Notices were issued. A total of 11 drivers were charged with driving while operating a hand-held communication device, 7 drivers were issued tickets for failing to stop for school buses and one driver was charged with operating his vehicle with no insurance.
In addition to these above charges, several drivers were stopped for proceeding through a crosswalk when it was not empty of both pedestrians and the School Crossing Guard. Each of these drivers indicated to police that they were unaware of the new legislation that came into effect January 1, 2016, so officers used their discretion and decided to educate them in lieu of laying charges.
In feedback from officers participating in this years campaign, many of them reported that there appeared to be a high level of speed compliance especially in many of the designated school zones. Officers however conducting school bus enforcement were very surprised to see a number of motorists failing to stop. On one occasion, the officer reported that approximately 10 motorists drove right past a stopped school bus that was properly displaying their flashing red lights and stop arm. Members of the Traffic Enforcement Unit will be meeting later this week to discuss an additional project to target inattentive motorists failing to comply with this law.
The Niagara Regional Police Service would like 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. If any resident of Niagara wishes to report any traffic violations that they feel need to be addressed, please make a complaint by contacting the NRPS traffic hotline at 905-688-4111, ext 5555, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fill out the online form on our website or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.