Editorial: Drive cautiously

Back to school traffic requires alertness and complete focus

School is back in session on Sept. 9, so we – drivers, parents and youth – have to be careful to make sure all of our students get to and from school safely.

Students of all ages will be excited about going back to school to see their friends, meet new teachers and some will be new to the school and maybe new to the community, and they may be thinking about embarking on a new chapter of their lives – and not about traffic safety.

The last thing we want to happen is to have that excitement come crashing down on our students.

As motorists, we have to take the initial safety steps, as we are the ones driving the vehicles that do the damage.

We have to be more aware of the possibility of a child dashing out into traffic, so we have to be alert and scanning the areas on either side of us, as well as keeping our eyes on the road.

We need to be focused on the task in front of us and not being distracted by mobile communication devices or anything else that will cause us to not be looking for potential problems.

We have to remember the maximum speed limit in a school zone is 30 km/h, and it doesn’t hurt to slow down a bit more if there are a lot of children on the sidewalks, especially near crosswalks, parked vehicles and intersections.

The 30 km/h speed limit posted in school zones is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we should always stop for pedestrians – it’s the law and it’s there to protect our children.

If a vehicle is stopped in front of us, it may have yielded to a pedestrian, so we have to be prepared to stop, too.

It is also important to note vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing. The lights mean children are getting on or off the bus, and they could be crossing the road to get to or from their homes.

This is a significant problem in our rural areas, so drivers must stop until the bus moves on.

When we’re dropping children off in school zones, we should make sure they exit the vehicle from the door closest to the sidewalk.

We should never allow our children to cross the road mid-block.

Meanwhile, students also need to be safety wise and road wary to avoid accidents.

Students must not be distracted when they are going to and from school, especially when they are walking through intersections and crosswalks.

Older students need to stop texting and remove headphones or ear buds when crossing the street.

They must not jaywalk as it is both dangerous and it also sets a bad example for younger children.

As parents, we need to teach our children to look both ways and make eye contact with a motorist before crossing the road.

These are simple safety rules and if they are practised daily, everyone will have a safe and happy day.