Drivers beware: school zone speed limits in effect Monday

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THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The strike is over, the kids are going back to school and the RCMP is reminding drivers to pay attention to speed limits and watch for foot, bicycle and skateboard traffic around all school zones. 

Mounties say while school zones are where a large concentration of kids will be found, they have to get there using other routes, so care must be taken outside the zones as well.

"There will be... children running around, darting in and out of traffic outside school zones," RCMP Const. Kris Clark said in a media release. "Slowing down doesn't just apply to 8:30 in the morning and 3:30 in the afternoon. Children who live near school might go home for lunch. Or, children might be late getting to school or coming home early."

School buses are another thing Clark said drivers have to watch out for. When the bus displays a stop sign and flashing red lights, drivers must stop until the lights have been deactivated regardless of which direction the driver is heading.

If drivers have a hard time watching their speed, RCMP volunteers are willing to help out to enforce limits. They'll be in random, stategic places between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"We strongly encourage students and their parents to consider walking or cycling to school to reduce traffic congestion around the schools and increase student safety," comments Officer Gibson, “or consider dropping students off at a safe drop spot close to the school but not right at the school, giving your children the opportunity for a little exercise.”

Tips for Pedestrians:
1.  Remove your headphones; put away your phone, MP3 player or other gadgets when crossing a street. Focus your full attention on the road so you can see, hear and respond safely.
2.  Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both know you see each other. The most common road safety error made by kids is not finding a safe place to cross. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible.
3.  Dress to be seen. Wear bright or light coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.
Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk—away from the road. This way, you’re further away from the traffic. If there is no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers can see you.
4.  Be aware of parked vehicles in parking lots and on the road. Drivers may not see you between parked vehicles and you may not see them moving. Before crossing or walking through a parking lot, stop and look left-right-left around the parked vehicle and avoid taking unnecessary shortcuts through parking lots.

Tips for drivers:
1.  When school is in session, a 30-km/h school zone speed limit is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every school day, unless otherwise posted.
2.  Plan ahead and be alert. Driving routes with less traffic in the summer may now face congestion, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Take your time and don't rush, especially through intersections. Look for children especially near or around crosswalks and intersections close to schools.
3.  When dropping off children in a school zone stop and allow them to exit onto the sidewalk side of the car. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
4.  If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
5.  Always watch for pedestrians when you’re backing up. Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to ensure no small kids are behind it. And remember, children will notice your driving behaviour as well as your pedestrian behaviour, so please set a good example for them.

Tickets and fines under the BC Motor Vehicle Act:

Speed in school / playground zone - $196-$253
Fail to stop for school bus - $167
Fail to yield to pedestrian - $167
Pass vehicle yielding to pedestrian - $167
Disobey school guard / patrol - $167

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