Drivers need to be alert as schools reopen for class

The summer vacation time is winding down for this year, and families are preparing for the start of a new school year on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Motorists need to also be aware of this change in the daily routine, even if they do not have children who will be going off to school.
School-aged children have had the last couple of months to have fun and enjoy themselves without the need to be walking to school, or going to the bus stop to get on the school bus.
That all changes after Labour Day Monday, when children will need to switch from their vacation mindset to a focus on school.
As the Canada Safety Council has pointed out, it isn’t always easy to know or predict how children will act, or react, particularly if they’re young and excited about meeting their friends or their new teachers as they walk, run or ride their bikes to school.
In their excitement, they may not be thinking about looking both ways and might dart out in traffic unexpectedly to catch their bus, which makes defensive driving particularly challenging and crucial.
This also puts the onus on motorists to pay attention to the speeds in the school zones, and to also watch for the stop-arms and flashing lights of the school buses.
It is against the law to pass a bus from any direction when the stop-arms are out and red lights are flashing, and buses are also required to stop at all railway crossings, so motorists need to be watching for that.
The police hand out tickets every year to motorists who ignore the stop-arms or who speed through the school zones without regard for the children who are going to or coming from school.
The tickets will hurt the pocketbook, not to mention the demerit points that a driver gets for these offences, but far more importantly, the safety of children is put at risk. There are numerous stories from bus drivers about extremely close calls with children who excitedly dash out from the bus to run home, or vice versa.
The hope is that motorists will be vigilant and alert to the stop-arms, at crosswalks and in school zones, because it would be absolutely tragic for a child to be hurt or killed by an impatient driver who can’t be bothered to pay attention to their speed.
Earlier this summer, a girl was hit by a car on a busy street near Haig School and the Don Mitchell Tot Lot, where families were gathered for Minor Ball games or to play at the paddling pool and playground.
This occurred even with a school-playground speed zone in place on a weekend when school wasn’t in session, and shows drivers have to be aware of what they’re doing at all times, more so now that all schools will be busy once again.

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