It’s that time of year again. Time for our children to return to school. Traffic will be heavier on our roadways as everyone returns from holidays, school buses return to their routes, and more people are walking, cycling, or driving to school.
Cuming & Gillespie LLP want to ensure that everyone has a safe return to school whether children are arriving by foot, car, bike, or school bus.
PLAYGROUND AND SCHOOL ZONES
In Calgary, there are approximately 1,680 playground zones. These zones were designed to increase the safety of children from motorists driving through these neighbourhoods.
Drivers should take extra caution and reduce speed when driving around playgrounds or school zones. The maximum speed permitted in playground zones is 30 km/h between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. every day of the year. Fines double if you are caught speeding in school or playground zones in Calgary.
Within playground zones, drivers are not permitted to pass another vehicle travelling in the same direction.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY
Travelling by school bus is one of the safest ways for our children to arrive at school. School buses are specifically designed to protect our children, even without seat belts. Most incidents involving school buses occur while children are waiting for or getting on and off the bus.
As drivers, it is important to give school buses plenty of room.
When driving on a road without a median, all drivers in both directions must stop for a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. If you are approaching the school bus from the front, stop your vehicle at a safe distance to allow children to cross the road in front of the bus. Do not begin driving until the red lights have stopped flashing or the school bus begins to move.
If you are driving on a road with a median, only drivers traveling in the same direction as the school bus must stop when the upper red lights are flashing. Drivers traveling in the opposite direction are not required to stop, but should proceed with caution.
Drivers can be charged if they pass a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. The fine for illegally passing a stopped school bus is $150 to $300 and 6 demerit points for a first offence. A second offence could result in a fine of $300 to $500 and suspension of a driver’s license for 30 days, and 100 hours of community service. A third offence could result in a fine up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days, and 200 hours of community service. A fourth offence is considered a felony and is subject to a fine up to $3,000 and a one-year license suspension.
SAFETY WHEN TRAVELLING BY CAR TO SCHOOL
Parents and children should follow the school safety protocols in place when dropping off and picking up children from school. It is especially important to follow posted speed limits, and designated drop-off and pick-up areas. Double parking, parking in crosswalks, parking within 5 metres of a crosswalk, and not crossing at a crosswalk all create hazards and are all prohibited by law.
SAFETY WHEN TRAVELLING BY BICYCLE TO SCHOOL
In Alberta, cyclists must obey all traffic laws and have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles according to the Use of Highways and Rules of Road Regulation.
Parents should remind their children to ride in a single file, complete a shoulder check for vehicles, know how to use hand signals, and watch for cars backing out of driveways and/or pulling onto roads.
As we have previously blogged about, by law, every cyclist under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury. It is a parent or guardian’s duty not to authorize or permit a person to ride a bicycle under the age of 18 unless he/she is wearing a bicycle helmet.
Although it is not compulsory for adults over 18 to wear helmets, one can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death. All helmets must be certified, must fit properly and have a chin strap, must have a hard smooth outer shell, and be capable of absorbing an impact.
WALKING TO SCHOOL
Many children will be walking to and from school. Injuries to pedestrians can be very serious and may lead to long-term physical and mental difficulties.
Parents have the responsibility to teach their children the skills required to be safe as a pedestrian. Children should be reminded to obey all traffic lights and crossing guards, and to always to look left, right, in front, and behind before crossing the street.
Parents should practice walking a safe route to school before school begins, taking special note of crosswalks, stop signs, and potential traffic hazards. Children should be encouraged to walk to school with a sibling, friend, or neighbour.
It is important that your child remain hands-free while walking to and from school to avoid distractions from cell phones and gaming devices (see our blog regarding the consequences of distracted walking). If your child is walking with their head down, they cannot see what is in front of them. Also earphones prevent your child from hearing sirens or car horns.
It is also important to make sure your child knows what to do and who to contact if he/she gets lost or faces an emergency while travelling to or from school. Ensure that your child has memorized a parent’s cell phone number and write down important numbers on the inside of their backpacks.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured, it is critical that you speak with a lawyer regarding your situation as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation. Please contact the experienced and award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555. Contact our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.