With classes back in session beginning today, Sept. 5, the Trail and Greater District RCMP is reminding the public about school zone rules.
“Please slow down in our school zones and help keep our children and teenagers safe as they get themselves back into their learning routines,” advises Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, Trail RCMP detachment commander.
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.
In playground zones, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk.
In the southern interior, which includes the Trail area, two children walking or cycling are killed and 33 children are injured in crashes every year, according to ICBC statistics.
Moreover, in school and playground zones, six children are injured every year in the southern interior.
That’s why as children return to school, ICBC is sharing important tips for drivers, parents and caregivers to help get a safe start to the school year.
“We’re working to make roads safer near schools,” the insurer states. “We’ve invested $1.25M in 101 projects focused on school safety since 2016.”
Last year alone, ICBC says it completed 27 projects across the province. Upgrades included adding pedestrian signals to crosswalks, rapid rectangular flashing beacons, raised medians, pedestrian refuge islands, speed reader boards and speed humps.
Tips for drivers:
Leave your phone alone, and watch for children walking or cycling. Distracted and inattentive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists.
If a vehicle stops in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.
Watch for school buses. When their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.
Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure there are no small children hidden from view. Always look for pedestrians when backing up.
Make sure your headlights, brake and turn indicator lights are clear, visible and in good working condition at all times. This can help pedestrians see you better.
In residential areas, a ball or hockey net may mean that kids are playing nearby. Slow down and watch for children as they could dash into the street at any moment.
Tips for parents:
If your child walks to school, practice their route with them ahead of time. Review street names and landmarks to orient them. Make a fun, interactive game out of guessing the correct traffic signs and meanings with your child along the route.
If you drop off your child in a school zone, they should exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk.
Teach your child the basics of crossing the street:
Stop at the curb or edge of the road.
Look left and right for oncoming vehicles, then look left over your shoulder for vehicles that might be turning.
Make sure all vehicles have stopped before entering the road. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing, even if the walk signal is on.
When the intersection is clear, start crossing and keep looking for approaching vehicles.
Teach your child to walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk away from the road, so they’re further away from traffic. If there isn’t a sidewalk, they can walk facing oncoming traffic, so they can see approaching vehicles and make eye contact with drivers.
Set a good example by not crossing mid-block or running to cross the street. Where possible, cross at intersections with a pedestrian crossing light or marked crosswalk. Avoid shortcuts through parking lots or around parked cars where it’s harder for drivers to see small children.
Teach your child to put away electronic gadgets, cell phone and ear buds while walking or cycling so they can scan for approaching vehicles or hear traffic.
If your child will be outside at night or in poor weather, make sure they’re wearing bright clothes and reflective gear.
Discourage play around or on railways. Only cross railway tracks at designated signals or signs and watch your step.