Windsor Star

School zone photo radar urged

MP’s bill ‘for the safety of the kids’

- DAVE BATTAGELLO

Nikolay Nikolov doesn’t blink when told the provincial government will debate next week introducin­g photo radar in school zones.

“It’s a good idea,” said the father of two as he picked up his children at Southwood public school on heavily travelled Cabana Road. “It’s for the safety of the kids.

“Some of the (drivers) speed and don’t pay attention to the kids. It would make people drive more carefully in school zones.”

MPP David Caplan (L — Don Valley East) is introducin­g a private member’s bill Monday to allow the use of “traffic safety cameras” in highway constructi­on and school safety zones.

Those areas have been recognized through increased traffic fines for violations, but the problem is enforcemen­t, he said.

“ Drivers are not slowing down and people are being hurt and killed,” Caplan said. “We need a real deterrent to save lives.”

Caplan said a boy was killed about seven years ago in his riding outside a school in Don Mills.

“I don’t know if something like ( safety cameras) could have prevented that or not,” he said. “I do know speed is a factor in half of traffic fatalities taking place today. In areas where people are vulnerable we do need drivers to slow down.

“We want people to know they are being monitored in those areas and that you will be caught and ticketed.”

In the mid-1990s the introducti­on of photo radar was a political bust in Ontario, when it was condemned as a cash grab by the province.

Critics also objected to the use of unmarked vehicles to snap photos of unsuspecti­ng drivers.

Caplan said that under his plan, every driver would be clearly aware through signs and awareness programs exactly the zones where cameras would be located.

“I just want drivers to slow down,” he said. “They will know where these areas are and we will create awareness (where cameras are located).”

Neil Cowley, who was picking up his granddaugh­ter at Southwood school Thursday, said he is against the plan. Better education for drivers and children would have greater and more lasting impact than putting photo radar in school zones, he said.

“It would be great for about 10 days,” he said. “(The impact) wouldn’t last. It would be better to teach safety in the schools.”

The Greater Essex County District School Board has 60 elementary schools and traffic can be chaotic during morning dropoffs and afternoon pickup times, said Penny Allen, the board’s superinten­dent of business.

A bigger safety concern than speed is traffic congestion and illegal parking during those periods, she said.

“Cars need to go slow and be watching,” Allen said. “I don’t know whether photo radar would help or not. I do know there is a lot of traffic congestion around our schools.”

It’s not clear how a school zone camera program would work, she said.

“A big question is, is the fear of getting a ticket going to make people go slow?” Allen said. “A big part of it is people are always in such a hurry. I will be very interested to see how this goes forward.”

The Ontario Road Builders Associatio­n has jumped behind Caplan and recently commission­ed a survey which showed 67 per cent of Ontarians support photo radar in school or highway constructi­on areas.

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