A zero-tolerance approach targeting school and community safety zones will be applied to ensure that students get to and from school without harm from irresponsible drivers.
Superintendent Scott Baptist, the Toronto Police Service Traffic Unit Commander, made this clear during a back to school traffic safety event at Oakridge Junior Public School in Scarborough on September 3 as kids went back to class.
“We will not be issuing any warnings,” he said. “Our kids are precious and every parent in this city want their child to get safely to and from school. Our officers will be in school zones throughout the year, but particularly over the next few weeks, doing enforcement. They are going to give out tickets. We need you to follow the rules. We need people to slow down and put their phones away as distractions are killing people in our city.”
Last week, Sgt. Brett Moore did some enforcement in the school zone near Pharmacy Ave. and Danforth Ave.
“I was surprised at the number of people going through stop signs at 20 and 25 kilometres per hour and not even rolling through them,” he said. “That is totally unacceptable. We have asked out officers to have a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement.”
Toronto District School Board Chair Robin Pilkey said the safety of students and staff members will always be a board priority.
“This time of year brings a lot of new traffic to school communities and I am calling on drivers to slow down in school zones,” she said.
Mayor John Tory, who is also a Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) member, also urged drivers to slow down and pay full attention while on the road.
“The biggest responsibility must rest with drivers because they are driving powerful vehicles that are heavy and which protect them unlike other people who are using public spaces,” he pointed out. “It’s one of the reasons for us investing in road safety through our Vision 2.0 plan.”
The five-year action plan is aimed at eliminating fatalities and reducing serious injuries with an emphasis on pedestrians, school children, older adults, cyclists and motorcyclists safety as well as reducing aggressive and distracted driving.
“The plan includes using technology where it makes sense to make roads safe,” said Tory. “That is why you are seeing the number of red light cameras doubled because it shows, particularly in Scarborough where a number of people who lost their lives or were injured last year, that a great many of them had to do with people who are racing to get through a yellow light or even a red light.”
Tory said the plan also ensures that schools are surrounded by school safety zones just like the one at Oakridge Junior. A total of 136 school safety zones have been implemented across Toronto and City staff will be working over the next four months to add 60 more zones that include increased signage and pavement markings.
The Mayor also confirmed that speed cameras will be installed in school safety zones.
“This starts in December and the cameras will be installed in different parts of the city,” said Tory. “I believe they are going to be fundamental to the enforcement of speed limits and they will be a common sight across the city in 50 locations.”
In the last few months, the speed camera technology was piloted in several parts of the city.
On Renforth Dr. in Etobicoke where the speed limit is 40 kilometres an hour, Tory said a driver was caught by the speed camera doing 202 km/h.
“In one month that the camera was deployed in test mode along that stretch of Renforth Dr., 25,511 vehicles a week were speeding on a road where the average volume is 37,000,” he said.
On Rockliffe Blvd. in Etobicoke where the speed limit is 30 kilometres an hour, the cameras found almost 50,000 vehicles were speeding on a road where the average volume is 56,000 and a vehicle was clocked at 102 kilometres an hour.
“This kind of speeding simply can’t continue because it leads to injury and death,” Tory said. “We have seen that from the analysis we have done of the injuries and deaths we have experienced in the city.”
While doing enforcement outside Oakridge Junior Public School on the day of the news conference to ensure drivers weren’t stopping in areas designated for school buses, Const. Lee Cooke of Traffic Services noticed that a child wasn’t safely secured in the back seat of a car.
“A child is required to be in a booster seat until age eight or it reaches the height and weight, which this seven-year-old didn’t,” he said.
The driver received two demerit points and a $240 ticket.