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‘Like flogging a dead horse’: Calgary police frustrated with drivers in playground zones

The Calgary Police Service calls it the back to school blitz in playground zones. 

Every year, the traffic section of the force attends schools all over the city to enforce and educate parents on the safety around playground zones – especially during pickup and drop off times. 

Yet they see the same results every year.

“It’s very, very, very frustrating. I mean the amount of man hours and time that we put into this every year is like flogging a dead horse,” said Const. Kevin Cullen.

“We just know next week is going to be the same, next year is going to be the same. People just don’t care.”

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In the first week of school, Calgary police visited 46 playground zones, handed out 165 tickets and issued 100 warnings. 

Calgary’s playground zones have a 30 km/h speed limit that applies from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week. Last week, police handed out a $345 ticket for someone going 69km/hr in a playground zone.

Cullen said a speed like that is an exception. Generally, when police ticket drivers they’re going 10 – 15 km/h over the speed limit. For Cullen, those speeds could still seriously hurt a child.

“Those extreme speeds are frightening you know. Hitting a child at that speed… the child almost has no chance.”

Speeding not the only issue, say Calgary police

Cullen has seen stopping in designated school bus areas, double parking, jaywalking, running stop signs and pulling U-turns. Police see the same issues at every school.

The most common excuses from drivers, according to Cullen, is claiming they didn’t see the sign or were running late.

Police are reminding people to slow down and observe your surroundings carefully when in playground zones. Do not block crosswalks, double park or block driveways, and most importantly, do not speed. 

Cullen said, however, other drivers aren’t always the problem. It’s the parents themselves.  

“I’ve actually seen parents taking their kids and showing their kids how to jaywalk. They can’t be bothered walking an extra 100 metres to a crosswalk. They just want to cross the street with the kid.”

“Some of the things you see people do just to save a minute.”