With kids back in classrooms and on playgrounds, Regina drivers are being reminded to be vigilant around schools.
On the first day of the new school year Tuesday, SGI reminded drivers to slow down, obey posted speed limits, avoid distractions and be alert when driving through school zones, which are in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, year-round in Regina.
This month’s Traffic Safety Spotlight is on school zones, as many students will be walking to and from their school, getting off the bus, being dropped off by a parent or guardian, and crossing the street in these areas.
“School zones are busy places. Kids are excited, and any parent can tell you kids don’t always do what they’re supposed to. Sometimes they’ll maybe cross when they’re not supposed to, where they’re not supposed to,” said Tyler McMurchy, SGI media relations manager.
“They might be darting out from between parked cars, and it’s just really important that drivers reduce their speeds, avoid distractions, and be prepared for anything unexpected.”
McMurchy added that people being struck by vehicles in school zones is not a common occurrence, with only “a handful” each year.
“We’d like to see zero, obviously, but it’s fortunately very rare and one of the reasons that we have this continued focus year in and year out is because we want to keep it that way,” he added.
Natalie Mitchell, vice-principal at St. Elizabeth School, acknowledged parents and kids can all be in a rush at the start and end of the school day, “but just take those couple extra minutes to ensure all students are safe.”
Chris Warren, Director of Transportation and Roadways said the City of Regina has implemented several things over the years to improve safety around schools, like “traffic calming curbs” that narrow the roads and reduce crossing distance for pedestrians.
He also highlighted speed feedback signs that alert drivers if they’re adhering to the 30 km/h limit.
A ticket for speeding in a school zone costs more than a regular speeding ticket. Driving 20 km/h over the posted speed limit can result in a $310 ticket, and will be more expensive depending on how fast the driver was going. They will also receive three demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition Program.
On top of speed limits, some municipalities — including Regina — have bylaws that prohibit U-turns in school zones.
“Even if your municipality doesn’t, it’s a really good idea to not pull a U-turn in a busy school zone,” McMurchy said.
“It reduces the visibility and the lines of sight, it creates a little bit more confusion.”
Regina Police Service (RPS) Traffic Safety Unit Acting Sgt. Mark Golaiy said he was outside of St. Elizabeth School for 40 minutes Tuesday morning, and witnessed four improper U-turns.
“They’re looking to the right, to the left, what have you. They’re trying to turn around and they’re not watching if a kid comes walking out in front of them,” Golaiy said.
SGI also asks drivers to slow down and use caution when school buses are stopped with amber lights flashing. If the red flashing lights are activated, drivers must come to a complete stop.
To keep school zones free of congestion, drivers must obey the no-stopping signs in school zones.