Speed trap nabs school bus drivers

GUELPH (Apr 13, 2006)

Two speeding school bus drivers were among 28 people who got tickets when Guelph Police set up a speed trap near an elementary school Tuesday.

One of the school buses was carrying local high school students and one was from out of town, police said. They were clocked going 65 and 66 kilometres per hour at the corner of Imperial Road and Stephanie Drive, near Taylor Evans school, where the speed limit is 50 km/h. Those infractions carry tickets worth more than $50 and one demerit point, Sergeant Ron Lord said.

Crossing guard Marni Miksza has been helping students cross at that intersection for a year and a half. She said she sees speeders there every day.

"It's scary. This is a really busy street," Miksza said yesterday. "Just today, somebody went through the red light when a kid was crossing."

She said she's been told to write down licence plate numbers of speeding cars, but usually she's unable to do that. The situation is so bad, she said she wishes the police could have a permanent speed trap set up in that area.

And she said she's especially upset that some of the speeders are school bus drivers.

"It's a good thing they got pulled over," she said. "Once the parents send kids off, they expect them to be safe."

Elliott Coach Lines confirmed yesterday one of its drivers got a speeding ticket in the blitz just before 4 p.m. Tuesday.

It's been a few years since an Elliott driver got pulled over for speeding, said Sandra Kane, the company's director of safety and compliance.

School bus drivers are only allowed to rack up eight demerit points before their licences are downgraded, she said. That's compared to people with regular licences, who don't get suspensions until they have collected 15 points.

On top of that, the bus company could give drivers a letter of warning, a suspension or even fire them, Kane said. "We take it very seriously."

School bus "cargo is very precious," Lord said. "I'm sure there is a certain expectation that they would be that much more polished at their driving."

Speeders also put those around them in danger, which in this area includes many pedestrians, Lord said.

"It was close to two schools with students walking, and a residential area to boot. People just have to slow down and give themselves a few extra minutes."

Police will continue to do speeding blitzes in various places that have been identified as problematic, Lord said.

He noted a provincewide increase in speeding fines at the beginning of the month might help deter speeders.

"It all comes back to driver conduct and driver habits," he said.