School is back in session, and all drivers have a responsibility to be more attentive when travelling on the roads. This is especially important during the times of day when children are more likely to be outside of their school, including before school begins, lunchtime and after school.
Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to offer some important safety tips to all drivers on how to share the road, especially when driving around school property.
IF YOU ARE DROPPING YOUR CHILDREN OFF AT SCHOOL
Crossing guards are responsible to help children cross the road safely near schools. Drivers should always obey the crossing guards. Our children rely upon crossing guards to tell them when it is safe to cross the road. Drivers who ignore crossing guards are putting young students in danger.
It is important for drivers to respect all “no parking” and “no stopping” zones in order to avoid traffic jams and irritation, which may lead to hazardous driving situations. Drivers are encouraged to only stop their vehicles in areas designated by the school in order to load or unload their children. Also, avoid double parking as it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
Driving slowly through school zones helps promote safety and sets a good example for your children. School zone speed limits are typically 30 km/h during set times.
It is also recommended that children be dropped a block or two away from school in order to reduce traffic congestion or make use of carpools in order to reduce the number of vehicles arriving at the school.
Drivers are also advised against passing vehicles when travelling through a school zone. Drivers typically increase their speed when passing, which can be hazardous in school zones.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH BICYCLES
Although bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other vehicles on the road, children riding their bicycles may create unusual problems for drivers. Drivers should be especially cautious in these circumstances.
It is recommended that when passing a bicyclist to proceed slowly and leave 3 feet between your vehicle and the cyclist.
It is also recommended to let the cyclist go through the intersection first when you are intending to turn right and a cyclist is approaching from behind. And, using your turn signals is always required.
Drivers should be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighbourhoods and always watch out for bicycles coming out of driveways and behind parked cars. It is also important to check side mirrors before opening your door to avoid hitting a bicycle that is travelling by.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH SCHOOL BUSES
Children throughout rural and urban Alberta travel to and from school by school buses every day. Unfortunately, children are inexperienced when it comes to sensing danger. They may also be excited or energetic when entering or exiting a school bus. Therefore, it is extremely important that drivers pay extra attention to watch out for young students around school buses.
Alternating flashing yellow or amber lights mean that a school bus is slowing down or stopping. As a driver, you should be preparing to slow down and stop as well.
When approaching a school bus with red flashing lights, all drivers are required to stop in both directions. The penalty for passing a school bus with red flashing lights is steep ($543 and six demerit points).
It is most important to always be alert when travelling around school buses. Children are likely to be travelling in the school bus and children’s behaviour is unpredictable.
OTTAWA LAUNCHES STOP ARM CAMERAS ON SCHOOL BUSES
A pilot project has been launched for Eastern Ontario French schools in Ottawa to install school bus stop-arm cameras. There are currently six buses that have these cameras. The cameras will capture footage of those vehicles that fail to stop for school buses that have used their red flashing lights and extended their stop-arm.
The school buses in Ottawa will be equipped with four cameras, all installed on the exterior of the bus.
It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with flashing lights in Ontario. If the school bus cameras catch a vehicle that fails to stop, a fine of $490 will be issued to the registered owner of the offending vehicle (even if the owner is not the one driving the vehicle).
Ottawa officers will review footage captured by the cameras to decide whether to issue a ticket or lay charges. The images are sent to the vehicle owner and the time and location of the offence are indicated on the infraction notice. The registered owner will not be subject to any demerit points, which would have been the case if a driver were pulled over by a police officer for failing to stop for a school bus.
We will continue to follow any developments that result from this pilot project in Ottawa and will keep you posted in our blog if any school buses in Alberta become equipped with stop-arm cameras.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a result of an accident and believe a third party is responsible, 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 Lawyers 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.