The behaviour of Brandon drivers was scrutinized in school zones on Wednesday morning — and it wasn't all that good.

School zone drivers

CAA Manitoba was watching out for risky driver behaviour in Brandon school zones on Wednesday. (Jillian Coubrough/CBC)

​CAA Manitoba teamed up with police for its first ever first Back to School Safety Assessment, setting up at three locations — Ecole New Era School, King George School and Riverheights School — to  grade drivers and look for risky incidents.

There were 551 incidents of behaviour deemed to be risky in just one hour, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

At one of those schools — New Era school on Louise Avenue — the observation team saw 150 cars fail to stop properly, counted six speeders and saw one driver smoking, speeding and talking on his cell phone, all at the same time.

He was pulled over by police.

“It has been over two weeks that reduced speed limits in school zones have been in effect, but some motorists are still not getting the message,” said Mike Mager, president and CEO of CAA Manitoba.

“Slowing down will make little difference in your commute, but could be the difference in life or death for a child.”

Added Justice Minister Andrew Swan: “The safety of children is paramount and we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to slow down when driving in school zones.

"Under new legislation, school zones and lower speed limits are clearly marked so motorists have lots of warning to take the extra precautions so critical to protecting children," he said. "There is no excuse for speeding and endangering lives.”

In addition to 26 incidents of speeding, the most common infractions included:

  • Failing to stop at a stop line: 271 instances.
  • Pedestrian infractions: 46 instances.
  • Changing lanes illegally – 58 instances.
  • Using a driveway to turn around or drop-off: 60 instances

Other instances include:

  • One driver on Victoria Avenue going 76 km/h in the peak of the morning rush. Although not a school zone, it was still far above the 50 km/h posted speed limit.
  • Many parents dropping off kids on the wrong side of the street.
  • Idling in no idle zones.
  • Cyclists failing to dismount bike when crossing the street.

Even though many of the examples of risky behaviour aren't illegal, they are still dangerous, Mager said.

“What these results tell us is that motorists are taking chances in the number one place they should be as careful as possible: school zones,” he said.

In Winnipeg, the annual Back to School Safety Assessment on Sept. 10 turned up 1,531 risky driving incidents in school zones, including speeding, failing to stop or obey road signs, and distracted driving, including a woman spotted brushing her teeth.