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Cops stepping up enforcement in school zones to boost student safety

With kids returning to school this month, bell time traffic woes are back in neighbourhoods throughout the townships.

In an effort to ensure drivers are following the rules of the road, and most importantly, to keep pedestrians safe, Waterloo Regional Police have stepped up school-zone monitoring.

“We’re looking for motor vehicle driving offenses, including speeding, erratic driving, distracted driving, inattention, whether they’re talking on cell phones or just gabbing with passengers and not paying attention,” Sgt. Shaun Brown said during a recent monitoring program at John Mahood Public School on First St. in Elmira. “People really need to be paying attention, especially in a school zone, where it’s only 40-kilometres an hour. And we’ll see other offenses when we’re here. But particularly when it comes to school zones and school children, it’s about the driving behaviour.”

Standing near the crosswalk at Snyder Avenue with partner Cst. David Cassidy and Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz shortly after the end of the school day on September 18, Brown  acknowledges their presence – in uniform, not far from two marked cruisers – is sure to keep passing drivers on their best behaviour. But the monitoring isn’t just about writing tickets, he said. It’s also about reminding drivers in the area that these areas will be watched closely, and they need to take extra care in school zones.

“This stop sign, if we weren’t standing right here, there would be several offenses,” he said, pointing to the Snyder Avenue crosswalk. “By us being here, it brings awareness to it, and hopefully people will realize that whether we’re here or not, they need to abide by the law.”

The most common offenses in school zones are speeding and distracted driving, Brown said.

With an increase in the fine for distracted driving coming into effect at the start of the month, and the addition of demerit points to the ticket, Cassidy and Brown are hoping to see the issue eliminated from the streets. But they know it won’t be easy.

“People are still talking on their cell phones and texting, but they’re trying harder to hide it now,” Cassidy said. “As police officers, we see the aftermath of what happens when people try to use their phones and drive, and it’s never pleasant. If more people saw that, they would think twice about it.”

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