NINE motorists were caught driving in a bus-only zone next to a primary school in the space of just 60 minutes.
The drivers were seen by police using the bus link next to Lambton Primary School in Washington.
All are set to receive fixed penalty notices, and police have now launched an operation to prevent other drivers diverting into the pick-up and drop-off point.
Neighbourhood officers have relaunched Operation Effect following a recent increase in complaints from residents about law-breaking drivers.
When launched last year, the clampdown led to 200 fixed penalty fines being issued, and a large reduction in complaints from residents. Operation Effect 2 is again targeting offenders, particularly in the Lambton area.
Inspector Paul Stewart, of Northumbria Police, said: “This has been launched in direct response to concerns raised by our residents on motorists using the bus links.
“We notice a lot of activity during the school drop-off and pick- up times. These links are for use by buses only and exist to create safety for its passengers.
“Motorists using them, particularly as a drop-off point, is creating a real road safety issue for everyone involved.
“Drivers may also think using the bus link is a harmless way of negotiating traffic, but they are breaking the law and will have action taken against them.”
The chairman of Washington area committee, Councillor Bernard Scaplehorn, added: “The bus link improvement schemes were introduced by the city council following extensive consultations in each area involving the local community, local councillors and key partner organisations such as the police and Nexus.
“Proactive enforcement gives a clear message to the small number of drivers who continue to ignore the law.
“The bus-only lanes are there for a reason, to help get passengers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible, but the car drivers who are unlawfully using these lanes are preventing that from happening, which impacts on road safety and the amenity of the area.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the law, but equally aware of the needs of other road users – and we hope Operation Effect will help us to promote that message.”