As children head back to school this fall, the Vancouver Police Department is reminding motorists to slow down and pay attention in school zones.
“School zones around the city that have been mostly vacant all summer will soon be busy with bobbing backpacks and running distractions,” said Acting Chief Constable Doug LePard. “We all want those children to get to school safely and then to get home safely. That will happen if we all slow down and pay attention.”
When it comes to protecting our kids, officers have little tolerance for behaviour that puts children at risk. Traffic officers and Speed Watch volunteers will be stepping up enforcement in school zones. School zone speed limits are 30 km/h between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. – if you speed you will get ticketed.
“More than half a million students are returning to school this week and we want them to go to school and come home safely every day. Our goal is to turn school zones in B.C. into accident-free zones,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender. “To achieve this, everyone, including students and drivers, needs to be vigilant when they are near schools.”
“Heading back to school is an exciting time for our staff members, students and all of the parent communities. But it also needs to be a safe time for everyone,” said Patti Bacchus, Chair of the Vancouver School Board. “I’m encouraging all drivers to use both their common sense and their road sense when driving near any schools.”
1. Now that school is back in session, don’t forget that every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30-km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2. When you’re dropping off your children in school zones, stop and allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
3. If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
4. Always yield to pedestrians – it’s the law.
5. School buses will be back on our roads. Vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.
6. Before getting into your vehicle, make a habit of walking around your vehicle to make sure no small children are behind it. Always look for pedestrians when you’re backing up.
7. Post these safety tips in your home and review them with your children – even older children need to be reminded about road safety.
8. Remove your headphones and put away your phone or other gadgets when crossing the street. Focus on the road so you can see, hear and respond safely.
9. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both know you see each other.
10. Road safety lessons should be fun and interactive. Memorize the chorus of “Walk ‘n’ Roll,” a song by children’s musician Will Stroet, which is included in ICBC’s kindergarten to grade three road safety curriculum: “Wear something bright; Look left and look right; Wait for the light; Make sure you’re in the driver’s eyesight.”
11. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible. Even at a crosswalk, be aware of traffic and always make sure that vehicles are stopped before walking. Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals.
12. Dress to be seen. Wear bright or light coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.
13. Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk. This way, you’re further away from traffic. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers see you.
14. Be aware of parked vehicles in a parking lot or on the road. A driver 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 parked vehicles. Children should avoid taking shortcuts through parking lots.
*Crash and injury averages based on 2008 to 2012 data reported by ICBC. Fatal average based on 2007 to 2011 police-reported data.