September STEP School Zone Safety
The traffic safety focus for the month of September is Back to School.
There will be more traffic on the roads and sidewalks this September as children return to school after the summer holidays. Drivers should be extra cautious, especially when driving in school and playground zones. These areas can get congested in the morning and mid-afternoon, with children walking, biking, being dropped off or picked up by parents, or getting off and on school buses. Slow down and stay alert to help keep children safe on our roads.
Back to school facts:
- Collisions involving school buses are more likely to occur during the morning than later in the day. Two out of five collisions (47%) involving school buses occurred between the hours of 7:00 am and 11:00 am (2020/21 school year).
- 42% of drivers involved in collisions with school buses committed a driver error, the most common of which was following too closely.
- 65% of casualty collisions and 90% of property damage collisions involving a school bus occurred in urban areas.
In Medicine Hat, all school and playground zones are signed as playground zones only, and a 30 km/hr speed limits is in effect from 7:30 AM until 9:00 PM all year round.
One of the most common concerns that arise when schools are in session are complaints related to parking at/near the schools. The infractions are often due to parking near or blocking crosswalks, blocking driveways and parking near fire hydrants or parking where signs prohibit. Fines begin at $50 for Medicine Hat bylaw offences and can be as high as $810 for Traffic Safety Act offences.
In the excitement of returning to school, children may forget basic road safety rules as they walk, bicycle, and ride the bus to school. Throughout the province, traffic injuries are the leading cause of death and a leading cause of hospitalization to children younger than the age of 14 years.
To keep children safe, motorists should do the following:
- Use caution when approaching intersections or mid-block crosswalks. Parked or stopped vehicles may hide a pedestrian who is crossing the road. The fine for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross is $810 and four demerit points.
- Watch for the school safety patrol in their orange vests and stop as directed. Patrollers play a vital role in directing children safely across the street.
Back to school also means an increase in school bus traffic throughout the city. Safety at or near bus stops is also a high priority. Keep the following in mind:
- Alternating flashing amber lights mean a bus is slowing down to stop. Do the same.
- Motorists should always watch for children crossing the road and be prepared to slow down or stop.
- Driver courtesy goes a long way. By simply being alert and cautious when approaching a school bus, you are contributing to school bus safety.
Let’s work together to as a community make our roads safer for everyone! With your help, we can ensure our children’s’ return to school is a safe one.
For more information contact:
Sgt. Stacey Fishley
Medicine Hat Police Service