The new school year began yesterday, and it’s important to remain vigilant while driving through school zones and playgrounds, particularly during school times, say Sooke Mounties.
That means slowing down and keeping a sharp eye on crosswalks and school buses that may drop off or pick up students. As it stands, speed limits in school zones during school hours is 30 km/h, which starts at 8 a.m. and remains in effect until 5 p.m.
This also applies to areas that have dual speed limits, such as Throup Road, which rapidly shifts from 50 km/h to 30 km/h when turning towards Journey Middle School and Ecole Poirier.
“What we’ll usually do in the morning is at 8 o’clock sharp, we hit the school zones and maintain a visible presence,” said Sooke RCMP Cpl. Joe Holmes. “Pay attention at all times, just because it may or may not be between 8 and 5, there could still be kids associated to the school area.”
In addition to increased traffic of school-bound minivans and SUVs, expect a lot more yellow out there, as school buses will be operating in full force taking kids to and from school – this means being mindful and obeying the rules when it comes to school bus stop lights.
Holmes said respecting the flashing amber lights is what helps keep everyone safe stepping in and out of the bus.
“Reason why the ambers don’t try and race it is because kids may be attempting to get across the bus as it’s slowing down, or the bus could come to a full stop and still have its ambers on,” he said.
“Treat them as cautionary and just start hitting the brakes at that point. Even though they shut off the lights, just be weary that there are kids still around that bus immediately after.”
Parents are encouraged to give their kids a few tips on being safe out there, noted Holmes.
“Make yourself clearly visible, adhere to the sidewalks, and when at a crosswalk, make sure you have eye contact with the driver and that they see you. Around the bus, make sure you stay visible around the bus driver at all times, and follow instructions in regards to bus safety. Don’t walk on the road where at all possible and stay visible.”
Holmes said there will be police enforcement throughout the school year, with an especially “big push” during the first few weeks of school.
“We’ll be out and clearly visible and have a little chat with those who don’t follow the rules,” he said.
Another reminder, in or out of school times, there is no texting or use of mobile devices while driving. That could considerably take the focus off the road, especially where kids are out in larger numbers around school times.