Safety assessment rings up 1,100 instances of dangerous driving in school zones

While kids are back in the classrooms, it's apparent some Winnipeg drivers haven’t learned to slow down in school zones.

Results 'very concerning,' CAA Manitoba head says of 7th annual survey

A Winnipeg police officer checks the speed of drivers during CAA Manitoba's seventh annual school zone safety assessment. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Kids are back in the classrooms, but it's apparent some Winnipeg drivers haven't learned to slow down in school zones.

The Canadian Automobile Association conducted its seventh annual test on Tuesday morning to see whether Winnipeggers are driving safely on the roads near schools.

About 1,100 situations of dangerous driving were spotted between 7:30 a.m and 9 a.m. during the school zone safety assessment. 

CAA, police and volunteers set up observation teams near three schools: Ecole Victoria-Albert School, Meadows West School and Lord Roberts Community School.

"The results this morning came back very disappointing," said Mike Mager, president and CEO of CAA Manitoba. "It's very concerning." 

The worst offence was speeding, with 352 heavy-footed drivers spotted.

One driver was on the phone going 70 km/h in a school zone when he blew through a red light, Mager said. 

Observation teams also spotted a cyclist texting and multiple drivers passing stopped school buses.

"We have to have people pay attention," Mager said.

Other infractions included 103 stopping violations, such as drivers failing to stop properly at a crosswalk, and 218 lane-change issues, such a a failure to signal.

In 2016 the observation teams spotted 548 drivers being dangerous behind the wheel and Mager said this year's spike is concerning.

The observation teams were using a new app to track the infractions, which could have resulted in more accurate results showing a higher number, he added. 

He said he doesn't think anyone deliberately speeds through a school zone, so it might be time to have a conversation with the city and the province about how to make signs more visible.

Distracted driving in Manitoba carries a hefty penalty — five demerits and a $200 fine.

The fine for speeding in a school zone between September and June ranges from $180 to $312.

Mager said drivers need to be very aware of their surroundings.

"You have to drive safely everywhere, not just in school zones, but particularly school zones because our children are not predictable," he said.

"You want to make sure you are fully paying attention, not distracted driving, and if a child runs out on the road you are able to react to it properly." 

More from CBC Manitoba

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson