As Saskatchewan students return to school this week, the focus of SGI’s Traffic Safety Spotlight for the month of September shifts towards school zones. The beginning and end of the school day witness a surge in activity on the streets, making it essential for motorists to exercise heightened caution and awareness. In collaboration with law enforcement, school authorities, and parents, SGI aims to remind everyone that school zones are bustling hubs of activity, with students walking to and from school, disembarking from buses, being dropped off by parents, playing in schoolyards, and crossing at crosswalks.
Navigating School Zones: A Shared Responsibility
The Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) emphasizes that as students gear up for their studies, drivers, too, have a responsibility to pass a crucial test: slowing down, adhering to posted school zone speed limits, avoiding distractions, and staying vigilant while driving through these busy areas. Reducing your speed in these zones provides you with more time to react and prevent potential collisions. SGI’s President and CEO, Penny McCune, stresses the importance of this, saying, “Excited kids may not always be paying attention to vehicle traffic, so expect the unexpected and drive slowly and carefully.”
Know the Rules: School Zone Speed Limits Vary
School zone speed limits and operational hours can differ significantly from one municipality to another. Therefore, it is imperative for drivers to acquaint themselves with the specific regulations in their community and adhere to the posted signs. Ignoring speed limits in school zones carries significant consequences, including hefty fines. For instance, exceeding the posted limit by 20 km/h results in a $310 ticket, with penalties increasing for higher speeds. Additionally, drivers will incur 3 demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition program.
Regina Police Service Traffic Safety Unit Sgt. Mark Golaiy emphasizes the grim reality of driver inattention and its tragic consequences. As students return to school, he urges drivers to prioritize safety, follow the rules, reduce their speed, and exercise extra caution within school zones. This not only ensures the safety of children but also prevents drivers from receiving expensive tickets.
Safety Measures in School Zones
When school buses display amber lights, indicating they are stopping to pick up or drop off students, drivers should promptly reduce their speed and verify that no children are about to emerge from the bus before proceeding. Furthermore, drivers should abstain from making U-turns within school zones, as some municipalities have by-laws prohibiting such maneuvers.
Jaimie Smith-Windsor, President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, underscores the collective responsibility of communities to prioritize safety as school zones become more congested. She calls upon motorists and all road and walkway users to demonstrate care for both school staff and students.
Managing Congestion in School Zones
To maintain school zones as safe and efficient spaces, it is crucial for parents and guardians dropping off or picking up their children to comply with “no stopping” zone signage. This ensures the smooth flow of traffic and minimizes congestion, enhancing safety for all individuals in these areas.
As Saskatchewan welcomes the new academic year, the focus on school zones becomes paramount in the realm of traffic safety. The collaborative efforts of SGI, law enforcement, school officials, and parents aim to create safe environments for students. Navigating school zones with caution, adhering to posted speed limits, and avoiding distractions are vital steps in ensuring the safety of our children. By collectively embracing these responsibilities, communities can protect their youngest members and make the school journey a safe and pleasant experience for all.