Toronto police officers will making sure drivers don't fail the grade in ensuring kids, who are among the most vulnerable road users, have a safe trip to and from school.
“Whether they are walking cycling or riding a school bus, it’s critical that we all do our part to ensure they arrive in school safely and return home to their families,” said Traffic Operations Supt. Scott Baptist at the Back to School Traffic Safety Campaign kick-off in East York Sept. 9. “This past year has been challenging for all of us as many of our road safety habits have changed as a result of fewer cars and people using our roads. With children returning to school and parents going back to work, our roads are once again getting very busy. We all need to pay extra attention.”
Baptist warned drivers to pay extra attention, slow down, put their phones away and drive cautiously.
“We all have an important role to play in making our roadways safer for our kids,” he noted.
Officers, up until September 17, will be in the vicinity of area schools to deliver targeted enforcement.
Parking Enforcement officers will also focus on ensuring that designated pick-up and drop-off zones are safe.
Drivers who park or stop illegally will be issued tickets.
“I need everyone to know that forewarned is forearmed and enforcement will be happening,” said Baptist. “Drivers who make the choice to speed, to drive aggressively and to use their phones while driving all make our school zones unsafe and they will be getting tickets. Nothing does a better job of slowing someone down or ensuring that they make a full stop than receiving a ticket. Excessive speed is the leading cause of our city’s most serious collisions. Higher speeds increase the chance of a collision and also tend to increase the severity of the injury associated with that collision.”
As part of its commitment to ensure that city roads are safe for all users, the Service implemented the Vision Zero Enforcement Team (VZET) which is an intelligence-led group comprising 18 officers who exclusively focus on speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving and impaired driving.
The VZET has issued over 30,000 charges for offences directly impacting community safety, including over 19,000 speeding charges and 109 stunt driving charges.
On their way to the Back-to-School campaign news conference at George Webster Park near George Webster Elementary School, team members charged two people with stunt driving.
Mayor John Tory along with City Councillors Brad Bradford and Jennifer McKelvie and Toronto District School Board Trustee Michelle Aarts attended the kick-off.
In the last year, the City has installed 50 automated speed enforcement cameras near schools and in community safety zones.
“We know that when these cameras go up, drivers speed goes down,” said Tory.
They have also set up Community Safety Zones, which are designated stretches of a roadway that include additional safety signage, improved pavement markings and flashing beacons.
“We know that these signs help to convince drivers or bring to their attention the fact that they have to slow down,” Tory, a Toronto Police Services Board member, added.
The City’s transportation staff installed a new school safety zone near George Webster Elementary School prior to the opening of the new school year.
A total of 339 Community Safety Zones have been installed around the city and an additional 63 will go up before the end of the year.
Also, a total of 765 School Crossing Guards are placed at intersections across the city.