Const. Ken MacDonald stands by one of the school zone signs near NNEC Tuesday. The government introduced legislation to reduce speed limits in school zones last year in which drivers have to reduce speed in school areas to 30 km/h, in a 50 km/h zone, whenever children are present. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS
With students returning to school this week, police and the province are reminding Nova Scotia drivers to obey the speed limit signs when children are present in school areas all over the province.
"There is no time limit on safety," said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Maurice Smith. "It's 24-7. If children are in a school area, whether it's 10 a.m. or 6 p.m., you must slow down to the posted limit."
In September 2012, the government introduced legislation to reduce speed limits in school zones. Drivers have to reduce speed in school areas to 30 km/h, in a 50 km/h zone, whenever children are present. In areas where the speed limit is higher than 50 km/h entering the school area, a 50 km/h reduced speed limit continues to be in effect.
Const. Ken MacDonald said that today more than ever, drivers are distracted.
“School zones are unpredictable,” said MacDonald. “Students aren’t always paying attention and these reduced speeds in the school zones increase the reaction time of drivers.”
MacDonald said the police’s traffic section will be monitoring drivers’ speeds through school zone and will be enforcing the laws.
As far as students safety goes, he said that school buses are the safest vehicles for students’ transportation.
“Buses require that vehicles around it stop when they’re dropping kids off,” MacDonald said. “It only works however if the other vehicles respect the law and don’t pass the bus when any lights are flashing, for example.”
He also had a message for students, emphasizing the need for parents and guardians to educate their kids on the basics.
“Simple rules, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, obeying crossing guards and wearing a helmet can save lives.”
"Pedestrian injuries are the leading cause of death among children ages 14 and under," said Jennifer Russell, health promotion specialist, Child Safety Link, IWK Health Centre. "Small reductions in vehicle speed can help significantly reduce the risk of serious injuries for pedestrians and drivers.
Drivers should also remember that fines for speeding are doubled in Nova Scotia school areas. More information about reduced speed limits in school areas can be found at www.novascotia.ca/tran/roadsafety/schoolzonesafety.asp .
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Walking to School
– Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route, and your child is familiar with it. Walk with them until they know the route and can do it safely.
– Always stop and look both ways before crossing the street.
– Small children may be less cautious around traffic. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
– Walk or ride the bus with a “buddy.”
On the School Bus
– Always wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before leaving the curb.
– Remain seated and do not move around on the bus.
– Always board and exit the bus at a location that provides safe access to the school bus or the school.
– Motorists are reminded to obey all signals when approaching a school bus. Fines for passing a stopped school bus with lights flashing are approximately $400.