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Back to school means school zones are in effect

School zone speed and safety enforcement has begun again and the Prince George RCMP are reminding students, drivers and guardians of their responsibilities to keep everyone safe.

This year’s return to school promises to be very different, as our schools navigate through the unprecedented challenges of educating students during a pandemic. Commencement and dismissal times may vary for different students in the same school, causing students to be crossing streets at unconventional times. As such, police are asking drivers to be extra vigilant when travelling in school zones.

Although public schools will welcome back students on Thursday, September 10, some private schools in Prince George already have students back in class.

School zone speed limits are 30 km per hour, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise posted. Fines begin at $196 and rise significantly with the driver’s speed.

The Prince George RCMP’s Traffic Services Section and other frontline officers will be refocusing their efforts towards back to school speed enforcement. Officers will be conducting patrols and targeted enforcement around schools to help ensure the safety of students as they go to and from school. Violation tickets for speed and other offences will be issued for anyone not obeying provincial traffic laws.

“It’s been six months since many of our children have seen their friends,” said Cpl. Craig Douglass, spokesperson for the Prince George RCMP. “They will be distracted by excitement. As drivers and guardians, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they remain safe.”

School Buses & Crossing Guards

According to provincial law, it is prohibited to overtake (pass) a school bus that is displaying red alternating lights. Drivers in both directions must stop and wait for the bus driver to load or offload children anddisengage the signal lights, before proceeding. Only then is it safe to proceed.

School bus drivers are aware that you are being patient and often give drivers the opportunity to pass when it is safe to do so. The fine for Failing to Stop for a School Bus is $167. Similarly, the fine for Failing to Obey a School Guard or School Patrol is also $167. There are a number of schools in the Prince George area that employ school crossing guards along some of our busiest roads. Please be on the lookout for these safety guards and be sure to stop for them when directed.

For more information about back to school related laws in British Columbia, please refer to the BC Motor Vehicle Act.

The Prince George RCMP would like to offer a few tips to students and drivers in preparation for back to school.

Tips for Students:

• Use designated crossing points and follow crossing signals where available;

• Remove headphones from music players and put down the cell phone when crossing the road;

• When crossing major roads, make sure that all lanes of traffic have stopped before walking across. Often drivers in the middle lanes don’t see pedestrians;

• Make eye contact with the drivers before stepping out onto crosswalks;

• Dress to be seen – daylight hours are decreasing, so wear brighter colours or reflective material whenever possible;

• Walk on the sidewalk, or if unavailable, walk on the side of the road facing the traffic;

• Walk on well-lit routes with less traffic;

• Always be aware of your surroundings.

Tips for Drivers:

• Plan ahead, leave earlier to allow yourself extra time through School Zones;

• Be alert to children near or around crosswalks and intersections;

• If a vehicle in a different lane slows or stops in front of you, slow down or stop and ensure that no one is on the crosswalk before proceeding;

• Always yield to pedestrians at intersections or designated crosswalks;

When dropping off children in a School Zone, ensure you do so in a safe place where the children can exit onto a side walk. Please don’t stop in the travel portion of the road and hurry your children out.

The Prince George RCMP is committed to increasing road-user safety, while decreasing the number of collisions at high-frequency locations within the City of Prince George. Frontline officers and volunteers will be attending school zones in Prince George throughout the rest of the month.

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