Operation School Safety, SGI’s monthly traffic enforcement blitz, netted 352 motorists for speeding in school zones September 10 and 11.
A media release from the provincial insurer characterized that number as “shocking.”
In Saskatchewan last year, 30 school zone collisions resulted in 11 injuries.
A comprehensive study by the United Kingdom Department for Transport on the relationship between speed and risk of fatal injury showed that, in children zero to 14 years of age, the risk of death in an impact at 30 kilometres per hour is barely five per cent. At 40 kph it is 30 per cent and at 50 kph almost 70 per cent.
This study and others like it have resulted in the reduction of school zone speed limits to 30 kph in many jurisdictions including Saskatoon. The Manitoba legislature just changed the provincial law to allow municipalities to set the school zone limit as low as 30 kph and Winnipeg City Council is already drafting that city’s new bylaw.
Ross Fisher, Yorkton deputy mayor, said it’s not something Council has discussed in this city explaining that it is something that would need to go through the Protective Services Committee.
“To my knowledge, nobody’s brought that to us since I’ve been on council,” he said. “It’s not a bad idea; I don’t think Council would have any hesitation to review it.”
Regardless of what the posted limit is, the message for drivers is very simple according to Andrew Cartmell, president and CEO of SGI.
“Slow down in school zones,” he said. “Not only is it the law, but reducing your speed gives you more time to react to hazards on the road, like a child darting out in front of you. Stay alert and drive with care, because you don’t need the injury of a child on your conscience.”
Sgt. Rob Laurent, commander of the RCMP Yorkton municipal detachment said his members did not specifically participate in Operation School Safety, but they do patrol school zones every morning and afternoon. He said Yorkton drivers are pretty good about respecting the school zones. During the 10 patrols per week, officers generally give out two or three speeding tickets.
Nevertheless, the detachment is working on obtaining portable school zone signs that crossing guards can wheel out into the street during school hours, an idea, Laurent said, they got from the Rosetown detachment.
Senior Cst. Rick Halter from Rosetown told Yorkton This Week officers there have seen a drastic reduction in speeding since they got the signs at the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year.
“We haven’t had half the calls of people speeding through school zones since it was implemented,” Halter said. “It’s been very positive.”
More than 800 tickets in total were handed out by the various participating law enforcement agencies during the two-day blitz including 179 other speeding citations, 125 seatbelt violations and 61 cell phone violations.