VERNON - It’s likely no surprise there are people who speed through school zones in Vernon, but just how many — and who some of the worst offenders are — might shock you.
As children played outside at Beairsto Elementary School over the lunch hour Friday, June 17, a team of RCMP volunteers aimed speed readers at passing vehicles as part of a road safety initiative coordinated by the city's Community Safety Unit.
Within 20 minutes, volunteers recorded around two dozen drivers going over 40 km/hour in the school zone, many hovering around 35 km/hour, and many slamming on the brakes when they noticed the speed gun aimed at their car.
Vernon mayor Akbal Mund participated in the initiative, which is geared at reminding drivers to slow down. Clearly visible in a reflective vest, Mund called out the speeds of passing cars to volunteer Mary-Anne Morgan, who jotted them down on a sheet of paper.
“Fifty-five, forty-three, forty-two,” Mund rattled off as a particularly speedy procession of drivers go by. “They must not know I’m here.”
Despite posted school zone signs, plus an extra sandwich board that reads 30 km/hr, many drivers appear completely oblivious to the operation.
Some of the speeders included people coming out of the school parking lot itself.
“I will say this, I think parents are part of the problem,” Mund said. “Maybe 50 per cent of the problem is parents.”
The speeders tend to come in waves; a fast driver out in front will often be followed by drivers travelling an equally high speed. However, it’s the same with a slow driver out in front — they tend to control the flow of traffic behind them. It's a good example of The Pace Car program, in which participating drivers help calm traffic by setting a pace that's within the speed limit.
The RCMP volunteers conducting the speed checks don’t write tickets; they remind people to slow down and provide statistical information to ICBC. Police on the other hand, can, and in this case, did.
Partway through the operation, a pair of Mounties set up a laser reader a short distance from where the volunteers were stationed. Some drivers got away with warnings, but at least five were pulled over and issued violation tickets.
“This is what we call a two-strike operation,” crime prevention coordinator and RCMP volunteer Regan Borisenko said. “We’re set up well in advance and it’s very clear what we’re doing. If drivers decide to ignore what they see, further down the road they’re going to be stopped by an (RCMP) member and are going to get a violation ticket.”
That fine starts at $196 and can go as high as $253. It’s also three points on your driver’s license.
The Crime Prevention Unit will be conducting around five speed watches a week throughout the summer around Vernon. And be warned, they may be joined by the RCMP at any given time.
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