Most public, private, montessori and home-schools are back in session now that September is in full swing. Keeping the children safe on the roads is an integral part of living in your neighbourhood. Here are a few reminders as you drive in and around the school zones in your home.
1. Pay attention and respect school crossing guards, yield to their instructions and under no circumstances may you proceed if they are helping children across the intersection.
2. No texting or talking on your cell phone! It is illegal to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. (If necessary, be sure to use a hands free device and pay extra close attention to your surroundings) This is especially important when you are driving through a school zone or in areas where school busses are loading and unloading children. Keep everyone safe and avoid hefty fines.
3. Keep within the speed limit while travelling through school zones. Now that school is in session, pay attention to the posted speed limits in your neighbourhood, as it is often different than in the summertime.
4. Stay alert, children are possible unfamiliar with getting on and off the school bus safely and crossing the street with or without a crossing guard. Do your best to keep eye contact with pedestrians and be aware of any children straying in front of your vehicle or possibly running out onto the road.
5. Do not block any part of the crosswalk or the school bus loading zone. Children and caregivers will be forced to manoeuvre around your vehicle if you are blocking the crosswalk, and that can put lives in danger.
6. Yellow flashing lights on a bus indicate that it is about to stop. Motorists should slow down and/or stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
According to the Ministry of Transportation:
“Whether on a city street, highway or county road, and regardless of the speed limit and the number of lanes, motorists travelling in both directions must stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. A flashing stop arm will swing out while passengers are boarding or leaving the bus. (The only exception: on highways separated by a median, traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop). Once all passengers have boarded, the STOP arm will fold away. Do not start moving until the red lights have stopped flashing and the bus begins to move.
Penalties for not stopping: First offence: $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points Each subsequent offence: $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time up to six months.”
Pay very close attention to all pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists and busses. Morning and afternoon school dismissal can be a chaotic time in the neighbourhood. Proceed with caution, stay alert and remember to care for everyone in your neighbourhood no matter how small.