(Ottawa Police Service – Back to School Safety Tips. Photo: Ottawa Police Service)
The Ottawa Police Service is reminding drivers and residents to make safety their priority as children return to school.
This year, there is a stronger focus on getting to school by walking and cycling and an expected increase in the number of children being dropped off at school by personal vehicles. It’s important that all drivers are aware of their surroundings, watch for vulnerable road users, slow down and drive according to the law.
“The return to school is always an adjustment for all road users and we want to make sure everyone is ready,” said Staff Sergeant Peter McKenna, head of the Ottawa Police Service Traffic Unit. “Expect the roads and school zones to be busier than they’ve been for a while. Be aware of your surroundings and obey all rules of the road makes it safer for everyone.”
In order to make safe commuting your priority, please consider the following safety tips:
- Reduce speeds in school zones and be ready to stop at any time. Children do not always notice oncoming traffic;
- Obey school bus signals;
- Watch for pedestrian crossovers – refer to http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/transportation-and-parking/road-safety/pedestrian-crossovers, know how they work http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pedestrian-safety.shtml and obey them when in use;
- Walk on available sidewalks;
- Always cross at intersections, looking and listening for traffic and walk across only when road is clear and safe to do so;
- Follow adult crossing guards, student crossing patrols and school bus operator’s signals; and,
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bike and walk your bike across a roadway.
“Children are smaller, making them harder to see and they may move unpredictably,” said S/Sgt. McKenna. “Drivers need to be even more vigilant before and after school and in school zones.”
Throughout the start of the school year, the Ottawa Police will be conducting enforcement in school areas.
When a school bus stopped with its lights flashing, drivers are responsible for stopping in both directions if on a road without a median. Fines for not obeying this law range from $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points. Some buses are equipped with cameras to catch drivers who illegally pass the vehicles when the lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended. A reminder to drivers, photo radar devices are present in some school zones. Avoid a ticket by driving the speed limit.
For more road safety tips, go to Back to School Safety https://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/safety-and-crime-prevention/Back-to-School.aspx>.
You can also find public health tips for Back to School during COVID https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/covid-19-and-schools.aspx>.