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Dimitris Ilias

It is that time of the year again and our most beloved treasures are heading back to school. An online announcement by the Thérèse-De Blainville PD prompted our paper to remind everyone of the basic driving precautions to protect our children around the school zones.

Thérèse-De Blainville PD reminds you that It is important to respect the signage in the loading areas around schools. The objective is to allow all parents to drop their child off at school in complete safety. It is therefore important to leave the space when your child has reached the schoolyard.

If your child does not use school transport and you are going to take it back to school and pick it up after the end of the day, you have an important role to play, especially if you are there during the arrival of other pupils and children as well as school buses. The recklessness of parents in too much of a hurry endangers the lives of young children walking around the school.

Drivers need to be aware and alert around school zones. That is why they were created. Children get hit every year because of reckless drivers and as the Thérèse-De Blainville remined everyone, being in a hurry is not an excuse to put a child’s life in danger. Here are some supplementary tips for safe driving behaviors around school zones.

Reduced Speed Signs

We have all seen the school zone signs. In Quebec, the common speed around School Zones is 30km. Remember, the fine for speeding and not obeying traffic laws in school zones is usually much higher than in other areas.

Watch for Children

School zones are there to protect the kids. Even when you are following all the rules, driving cautiously and not speeding, it is still possible for accidents to happen. A driver should always be alert because a child does not always think to make sure they look both ways, wait for traffic to pass or not play near the street. When they are not looking, it is up to the driver to be careful and protect the child’s life.

School Buses

In Quebec when a school bus turns on its flashing lights or deploys its stop sign, you must stop at least 5 meters from the bus, whether you are travelling in the same direction or approaching from the opposite direction. Offenders face: a fine of $200 to $300 and a great reduction of your demerit points.

Be Prepared to Brake

When you are going 30 km an hour, there is really no need to be stepping on the accelerator. Instead, coasting is preferable. Keep your foot above the brake pedal so you can react quickly in an emergency as you were taught in drivers training.

Crosswalk Signs

While not exclusively a School Zone sign, the yellow and black crosswalk signs are almost always located within School Zones, as well as other places. When you spot one of these signs, watch for pedestrians crossing the street. Many parents walk their children to and from school, or allow their young ones to walk on their own. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. They have the right of way.

Never Text

This goes for anytime you are behind the wheel. Driving a car is a big responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly. You must always be on attentive when operating a vehicle. Texting while driving, or inattentive driving in general, is an easy way to injure or kill someone. With so many more opportunities for bad things to happen, it is even more important that you put down the phone and focus on driving in School Zones.

Surprising stats

According to CAA, below are some surprising statistics about dangerous behaviors in school zones

Nearly a quarter of drivers reported witnessing a near miss or collision in a school zone, more than half of which involved a child (CAA polling, 2019).

Nearly 1/2 of Canadians say they witnessed a distracted driver in a school zone (CAA polling, 2019).

Nearly 6 in 10 Canadians say there are more unsafe driving practices in school zones today than in the past (CAA polling, 2019).

70% of Canadians say they have witnessed speeding in school zones, an increase from polling done in 2016 (CAA polling, 2019).

The top three unsafe motorist behaviours seen in Canadian school zones are speeding, illegal parking or stopping and texting and driving or distracted driving (CAA polling, 2019).

621 drivers were found speeding in a one-day assessment that at looked at 13 Quebec school zones between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. (CAA-Quebec, 2012).

267 drivers did not stop at a stop sign and 227 pedestrians jaywalked in a one-day assessment that looked at a Saskatchewan-based school zone between 7:30 to 9:00 am and 2:30 to 4:00 pm (CAA Saskatchewan, 2019).

During Ottawa Police’s week long blitz focused on traffic safety in and around school zones they issued 504 tickets to drivers for the following infractions; speeding in school zones, failing to stop, failing to yield to pedestrians at school crossings, failing to obey crossing guards, failing to obey school bus signs, and distracted driving (Ottawa Police, 2017).

In Edmonton more than 106,000 tickets were issued to drivers speeding in school zones during the 2014-2015 school year (Edmonton Police, 2016).

September is a dangerous month for pedestrians with more fatalities occurring during this month than any other (Transport Canada, 2017).

It is that time of the year again and our most beloved treasures are heading back to school.

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