September 02, 2013 - 11:52 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Let's make sure back-to-school excitement doesn't turn into tragedy.
Very excited children are heading back to school this week and they may not be watching for you or the car you’re driving - so slow down.
Thousands of students, loaded down with backpacks and wearing their brand new clothes, could be walking to school or they could be on bicycles, rollerblades or skateboards.
Which ever way they are heading back to class, it’s up to those behind the wheel to slow down and keep an eye out.
“It's simple. When you're driving, slow down and watch for children,” according to RCMP media liaison Cst. Kris Clark. “It doesn't matter whether or not you're in a school zone as kids have to walk from their neighbourhood to get to school so there are going to be children everywhere, even if a school isn't nearby.”
The RCMP want to remind the driving public that slowing down doesn’t just apply to 8:30 a.m. when children are going to school and 3:30 p.m. when they are coming home. The kids could be going home for lunch, they might be running late or they could be coming home early.
“Don't forget, it's not just children you have to watch out for, as school buses are back in service,” Clark said. “A school bus displaying its stop sign and flashing red lights means you must stop until the lights and signs are deactivated, regardless of which direction you are headed.” If you see a school bus, you know that children are nearby.
It’s crucial that drivers slow down in school zones, watch for crosswalks, and be mindful of School Traffic Safety Patrollers.
“Be alert and watch for kids riding to school on their bikes,” regional traffic safety officer Dave Gibson said. “We all want our children to arrive at school and home safely.”
Member of the RCMP and speed watch volunteers are going to be out in full force this week. They are making school zones a priority. The fine for speeding in a school zone ranges from $196 to $253.
“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,” Gibson said. He even goes so far as to ask parents to consider dropping the kids off in a safe place close to the school, not right at the school. The vehicle congestion is dangerous around schools at drop off and pick up.
Image Credit: ICBC
RCMP tips for pedestrians
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
RCMP tips for drivers
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Image Credit: B.C. Government
Tickets and fines under the BC Motor Vehicle Act
- Speed in school / playground zone - $196 to $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
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013