Summer has flown by and in just two weeks the school bell will begin ringing for yet another year. That means there will be more traffic and pedestrians, particularly kids, out on our streets and roads.
It’s important for everyone’s safety that motorists be aware of the start of the school year on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and take steps to help ensure the safety of our children and prevent accidents. Obey crosswalk guards, keep a close eye out for children crossing the street and be vigilant in school zones, especially since they can be unpredictable places.
Pay close attention to your speed in school zones, particularly since the law’s changing. Effective Sept. 1, the speed limit is being reduced to 30 km/h in areas where the approaching limit is 50 km/h, when children are present. By reducing your speed you’ll have more time to react to the unexpected and avoid a dangerous incident. Given that children are sometimes distracted and may forget to watch for cars, slower is safer. Follow the new speed when driving in a school zone.
School buses will soon be back on the road as well so it’s important to remember to stop for all school buses displaying flashing red lights. Motorists must stop in all directions and lanes when the red lights are flashing. In some areas of HRM, failing to stop for school buses has been a persistent problem. Officers will be watching for vehicles failing to stop for school buses displaying flashing red lights and ticketing drivers who don’t comply. Failing to stop for a school bus or for someone crossing in a crosswalk is not only dangerous but could result in hefty fines for drivers.
Parents are encouraged to remind their children of the rules of the road, particularly crosswalk safety. Pedestrians should cross the street at marked crosswalks where possible and be sure to make eye contact with the driver before stepping out into the roadway. Jaywalking is not just irresponsible and unsafe; it could mean a fine for the pedestrian.
Children and parents aren’t the only ones heading back to the classroom. Halifax Regional Police and RCMP School Officers will be heading back to school too. These officers work closely with parents, teachers and students to provide assistance and direction. School officers are familiar figures in our schools who help students with a variety of issues and teach safety programs. Most importantly, School Officers foster positive relationships between police and our youth. Children, parents and teachers are encouraged to get to know their School Officer. Here’s to a great 2012-13 school year!