Too many drivers in the Powell River area are breaking laws by speeding through school zones and not stopping for school buses, according to School District 47 and Powell River RCMP.
“We do get complaints from time to time from citizens regarding various traffic issues including speeding, stop signs and school zones,” said Powell River RCMP sergeant Kevin Day.
The laws are simple enough to understand even for the most lead-footed drivers.
If posted, the speed limit in school zones is 30 kilometres an hour from 8 am to 5 pm. When coming up on a school bus, drivers are supposed to stop when its hazard lights are flashing and the stop-sign arm is showing.
On Marine Avenue in Townsite, the problem of speeding is particularly acute in the Brooks Secondary School zone. Few vehicles, including large trucks, logging trucks going to and from the mill, and even some driven by students, are slowing down to even 50 kilometres per hour.
In the Powell River area, where all roads lead to Highway 101, the situation prompted school district superintendent Jay Yule to issue a statement to parents.
“It has come to our attention that we have had several near misses when motorists are attempting to pass school buses that are stopped on the road with their red flashers on and the stop arm out,” stated Yule. He added that violating motorists should be reported to the police.
“We are working on placing dash cameras in our buses in order to assist the RCMP in stopping these violators who are putting our students at risk of injury or death,” added Yule.
Day said he is aware of the initiative and that he believes the cameras could help present evidence police can use to further enhance enforcement.
“I am confident it would serve to further the safety of students,” said Day.
Every year, according to Day, officers address the danger to students through various initiatives, such as Speed Watch.
Speed Watch is a program in partnership with volunteers, police and ICBC.
Volunteers use portable radar equipment and an electronic digital monitoring board for an instant readout of a driver’s speed in locations such as school and playground zones. Volunteers record the speed of every vehicle and forward the reports to the police.
But Speed Watch is not currently active in Powell River.
“Our Speed Watch program is being revamped with new volunteers, and we are excited to get the program up and running again,” said Day. “In the coming months the community can expect to see more of the Speed Watch volunteers out in the school zones and community roadways.”