School bells are ringing again today for many. For some, not until tomorrow.
Something new to be wary of this year when approaching a school bus is the
amber flashing lights on the bus – a signal to others the bus is getting ready to stop. The red flashing lights are still there, indicating the bus has stopped and is taking on or discharging students. It is an offence to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
Fines for not stopping:
- First offence $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points
- Each following offence, $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time, (up to six months)
Police will have stepped patrols in school areas this week, ensuring everyone – drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians – are treating the return to school in a safe manner.
Barrie Police recommend parents of children walking to and from school walk the route initially, so they are familiar with how to safely get to school and return home. If you feel they are not ready to do the walk alone, walk with them until you are comfortable with their ability to do so, or suggest they walk with a friend. Parents should also talk to their children and remind them of the dangers associated with talking to strangers.
A CAA survey found just 37 per cent of parents think the roads around their child’s school are safe. The most common unsafe driving behaviours include speeding, double-parking, and stopping at undesignated areas. “We all have a role to play in keeping our school zones safe,” says Tracy Marshall, manager of community relations at CAA South Central Ontario (SCO). “These dangerous driving behaviours can lead to serious consequences, and CAA is urging motorists to slow down and follow the rules of the road when driving through school zones.”
The survey also identified that more than half of parents in the province (66 per cent) support the use of Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) in school zones, with 79 per cent believing its presence would deter speeding around schools. Two in three parents believe ASE should remain permanent in school zones.
CAA SCO offers the following advice:
- Help reduce traffic with active school travel: Encourage your kids to walk or ride to school to ease traffic congestion. If your school is a further distance, CAA encourages parents and guardians to park a block away and walk to school, if possible, to reduce traffic and make school zones safer.
- Slow down: Know the speed limit in your neighbourhood’s school zones and respect them. Ensure you give yourself plenty of time to drop off your kids at school to avoid rushing.
- Follow the rules of the road near school buses: Always stop for a stopped school bus with its upper flashing red light and stop arm activated, and wait for children to get safely on or off. Stay alert and watch for children or parents/guardians crossing the road when the bus moves on.
- Choose a safe spot to drop off and pick up your children from school: Follow your school’s rules and avoid double-parking or stopping on crosswalks, dropping off or picking up your kids on the opposite side of the street, and stopping in moving traffic as kids rush out. Instead, use the designated drop-off areas or consider a spot a bit farther away from school that is easily accessible and safe.
- Make eye contact with passing pedestrians and cyclists: With the excitement of going back to school, anticipate that children may not easily see or hear your moving vehicle. Use eye contact to ensure pedestrians are aware of you driving your vehicle.
banner image: CAA SCO