School Zone Safety (Schoolzone)
Keeping the Kids on our Roads Safe
According to the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario (MTO), over 800,000 students use school bus services during the school week. Children, are among the most vulnerable road users and extra precaution should be taken while driving in a school zone (schoolzone). Although the number of fatalities and injuries involving students travelling in school vehicles has declined over the past decade (MTO, 2016), these incidents usually occur as students are boarding or leaving the bus and crossing the street. Between 2007 and 2012 for example, there were 520 reported cases of injury and 1 fatality, involving students travelling in school vehicles. Of the 40 fatalities that occurred in the City of Toronto in 2013, 2 involved children. These accidents were caused by collisions with trucks, during their regular school commute (City of Toronto, 2016). These incidents highlight the importance of exercising caution on our roads and adhering to the regulations, especially in schoolzones.
Precautionary Measures to Adhere to when Driving in a School Zone (Schoolzone):
Always be on the lookout for students boarding or leaving the school bus
When sharing the road with school buses, always bear in mind that students boarding or leaving the school bus may not be paying attention, hence it is pertinent to always be on the lookout for them.
Avoid Speeding and pay attention to signs
Drivers are reminded to drive slowly and cautiously in school zones or additional areas where children are apt to walk or play. Speed radar signs have also been instituted to slow traffic when approaching schools. Drivers should also pay special attention to Community Safety Zone signs which indicate areas where public safety is of utmost concern. If drivers are caught speeding or breaking the law in a Community Safety Zone, fines are usually doubled.
Stop for the flashing lights
Drivers travelling in both directions must stop for a school bus when the upper red lights are flashing and the stop arm extended and must not proceed until the flashing lights have stopped. If you are approaching the bus from the front, it is advisable to stop at a safe distance to allow children to enter and exit the bus and cross the road. Drivers travelling in the opposite direction of a bus on a road with a raised median do not need to adhere to this rule. Bear in mind that school buses are also mandated to stop at all railway crossings.
If a driver refuses to stop for a bus whose lights are flashing, he could incur a fine of $400 to $2,000, in addition to six demerit points. Each additional offence would attract a fine of $1,000 to $4,000 plus six demerit points and possible jail time.
Yield right of way to the crossing guard
By law, drivers as well as cyclists are required to stop at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings, and other locations where a crossing guard is present and must not proceed until pedestrians and the school crossing guard have crossed over safely.
Above all drive safely and be courteous to all road users!
Keeping our roads safe is a concerted effort by all road users. With the current focus on walking to school as an alternative for commuting, it is important that we try to protect our children, adhere to the road rules and be alert at all times!
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