Police will be more present in school zones across the province starting Sept. 5. (Black Press)

School is back in session: Slow down to 30 km/h

Police are reminding drivers to slow down in school zones as kids return to school this week.

With the start of a new school year upon us, so are the reminders to be extra careful and slow down through school zones.

Starting Sept. 5, drivers must abide by the 30 km/h speed limits in school zones, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on school days, or hours otherwise shown on the school sign.

In addition, playground zone signs (diamond-shaped) are in effect dawn till dusk, every day, 365 days per year.

Police will be on the lookout for any speedy drivers as soon as school starts.

“We’re going to tweet out some info to remind people that we’ll be in the school zones, and we’ll certainly increase our enforcement in school zones at the beginning of the [school] year to serve as a reminder for people,” said Ray Bernoties, Oak Bay Police Deputy Chief, adding officers will return to their roles as school liaisons, talking to kids and insuring everyone feels comfortable about the start of a new year.

“It can be an anxious time for young ones and parents alike, so we’ll do our best everyone feels safe and comfortable in our streets.”

Despite all the warnings, education and media warning drivers to slow down in school zones, speed still happens.

“Sadly, it doesn’t take long in many school zones before you can find the need to be writing up a ticket to somebody, so we really encourage people to obey the speeds, particularly in school zones,” Bernoties said, adding that for a lot of kids, it will be their first day, not just back to school, but their first-ever school day.

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s far too easy to forget the rules and common sense.

“Often when we see someone speeding in a school zone, it’s not always malicious, it’s more or less careless. Anyone can fall into that mode of commuting to work, and not paying attention, but it’ll only take seconds to change the lives of many people. People do need to focus, particularly in the school area, and we’ll be there to help serve as a reminder.”

Speeding in a school zone can run up to $253 and three demerit points off your license, but it goes beyond just fines and punishments, Bernoties added.

“More importantly, putting the lives of children at risk is just completely unacceptable,” he said. “It’s really a zero-gain situation for drivers.”

While collisions between kids and vehicles are fortunately rare, they do happen. Based on ICBC crash and injury data between 2011 and 2015, every year around 30 children (aged five to 18) are killed in crashes on Vancouver Island, and around 5,000 are injured in an average of 14,000 crashes. In school and playground zones, 11 children are injured every year.

ICBC also reminds parents to tell their teens to be aware of their surroundings when walking or crossing a road.

“Looking at their cell phone or wearing headphones can prevent them from noticing oncoming cars and other hazards.”

octavian.lacatusu@oakbaynews.com

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