There have been too many driving infractions in school zones and around buses this fall, according to School District 71 and the Comox Valley RCMP.
With more vehicle and pedestrian traffic and school buses in school zones in recent weeks, drivers are asked to be extra vigilant and familiarize themselves with the bright yellow signage to indicate schools and school playgrounds are near.
“Autumn tends to be a critical time for us to remind motorists again to use extra caution and to abide by the posted speed limits,” school superintendent Tom Demeo said in a news release. “We can’t stress this enough. Safe driving in school zones and near buses is important to avoid accidents, personal injuries and to protect all pedestrians.”
To help spread the message, the school district had G.P. Vanier Theatre students create a video message about safe driving in school zones and to explain the safe driving regulations near school buses.
The speed limit in a school zone, unless otherwise posted, is 30 km/h between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday throughout the school year, from September to the end of June. The speed limit near a playground is 30 km/h from dawn to dusk every day of the year.
District school buses follow a loading and unloading procedure known as the Baltimore System. Wherever possible, a bus will pull completely off the road onto the shoulder to pick up or discharge students. In this case, they do not activate red flashing lights. Only when it is not possible to pull onto a shoulder will the bus stop on the roadway and use the red flashing lights. Motorists must then come to a stop on either side of the road until the flashing lights are turned off.
The RCMP and the school district also encourage parents and guardians to teach children to follow a safe route to and from school. It also helps if children wear bright colours, especially in the evening or when the weather is poor. They should always use a marked crosswalk and look both ways before crossing. Most importantly, students are reminded to focus by putting away electronics or other distractions and keep their eyes on vehicles before stepping out onto the street.
“The beginning of the school year is always a busy time in and around schools, so educating children about safety procedures should also include a review of the rules of the road,” said Const. Monika Terragni of Comox Valley RCMP. “Teach your children about road safety including school bus safety. We all have a role to play in protecting children in and around schools and buses.”