Speeding a dangerous issue in Quebec school zones

CAA-Québec's annual back-to-school spot check of driving habits in school zones has found more dangerous driving than ever, and some of the worst offenders are parents.

CAA-Québec's spot check records nearly 2,000 violations in 90 minutes.

Speeding was one of the leading infractions CAA-Québec investigators noticed in 13 school zones across the province. (CBC)

CAA-Québec's annual back-to-school spot check of driving habits in school zones has found more instances of dangerous driving than ever — and the results show some of the worst offenders are parents.

Within a mere 90 minutes on Sept. 11, CAA investigators witnessed  1,972 traffic violations or incidents of dangerous driving.  That is the highest number recorded since the association began its annual checkup in 2008.

The report published on Monday found nearly a third of the incidents involved speeding.  Investigators say they witnessed drivers zooming through school zones at 70 km/h, where the speed limit is 30 km/h.

Jonathan Routhier, CAA-Québec's deputy director for street education, said it's not only vehicles driven by members of the general public.

"When school bus drivers and other public transit systems fail to obey the limits in these critical zones, it's time to adopt a different approach to incite or force every driver to slow down before the worst happens," he said.

Micheline Lincoln, the principal at Christmas Park elementary school in Beaconsfield, has witnessed the traffic chaos first hand.

Mornings are so hectic, Lincoln spends each rush hour with a whistle around her neck, supervising traffic.

"They go very quickly, and they probably don't realize how fast they're going," Lincoln said. "Something can happen in a split second, right?"

"Mostly it's a lot of parents," said parent Paul Mazerolle.  "(They're) trying to drop their kids to school and trying to get to work afterwards."

CAA found long list of infractions

CAA Quebec said the most common violations include not respecting crosswalks, speeding and failing to use flashers.

Other violations include cellphone use, failing to wear a seatbelt and driving with a child younger than 12 years of age in the front seat.

"Sometimes the parents don't know where to stop, how to stop, what's the procedure," said Cédric Essiminy, a spokesman for CAA-Québec.

Police recommend there be more education campaigns for parents, while CAA-Québec suggests schools follow Christmas Park's lead — and always have someone present to supervise traffic at busy times of day.