Council asks for bylaw amendment to ban U-turns in school zones

City council has taken the first step towards cracking down on drivers who make U-turns near Prince Albert schools.

Council approved a motion during Monday’s meeting directing administration to amend the current Traffic Bylaw by late January. The amendment would ban drivers from making U-turns in all of the city’s school zones.

Coun. Blake Edwards, who made the motion, said he’s heard multiple complaints from residents about bad driving in school zones. Ideally, he explained, this bylaw will help address those concerns.

“I’ve heard it in the police commission (board) that there is a concern in certain school zones for sure,” he said. “ Different schools are maybe not as impacted as others, but it’s important.”

The City of Saskatoon already has a similar bylaw on the books that fines drivers $90 for making a U-turn in a school zone. Police consider the practice dangerous because children may not be able to anticipate the change in the vehicle’s direction.

Council members in Prince Albert said such a bylaw is long overdue, with Coun. Ted Zurakowski even going so far as to say the absence of one had lead to chaos in Prince Albert school zones.

“It’s chaos out there in front of these schools, chaos, especially the elementary schools where aunts and uncles and grandpa Joe’s are out there picking up the kids,” he said during Monday’s meeting. “I think this (bylaw) is a great idea. We need to make this happen as quickly as possible. It’s something we can do within our environment to make our community safer.”

Prince Albert’s current bylaw already bans U-turns in a number of areas, including intersections. U-turns are allowed at special locations designated by signs. They are also allowed in school zones, provided it is safe to do so, and the driver has given the appropriate signal.

The Board of Police Commissioners has recommended that city council make school zone U-turns illegal “in the interests of safety.”