New school zone law now in effect ? safety a priority as students return to class

It’s that time of year again ─ thousands of students are heading back to school. This fall brings a new rule for motorists ─ reduced speed limits when travelling through school zones, effective September 1.

The return of students also brings the return of school safety patrols. Approximately 10,000 young patrollers help make the trip to school safer for elementary and secondary students in Manitoba. Manitoba Public Insurance and CAA Manitoba have long worked together on this very valuable road safety program. Nearly 200 Winnipeg schools are involved, in addition to rural schools.

Each patroller commits to at least 200 hours per school term, spending up to an hour on duty every school day, helping students travel to and from school four times a day in all kinds of weather.

“School patrollers provide a very valuable service to their classmates,” says MaryAnn Kempe, Vice-President, Business Development, Communications & Chief Product Officer, Manitoba Public Insurance.

“The new speed-limit rules are aimed at slowing down vehicles and enhanced road safety in high-pedestrian areas. The onus of responsibility lies with parents and motorists to ensure everyone gets to school safely.”

Children Unpredictable

“The message is clear – slow down and pay attention, especially when driving in school zones,” said Mike Mager, President and CEO of CAA Manitoba. “Kids can be unpredictable pedestrians, so it’s up to motorists to be extra prudent to ensure their safety when traveling to and from school.”

To assist with school-zone safety and heighten awareness about vehicle speeds, Manitoba Public Insurance offers to loan out speed reader boards through its School Zone SpeedWatch program. School or parent groups can borrow the equipment to raise drivers’ awareness of their speeds as they pass through school zones.

Those interested can call Manitoba Public Insurance, SpeedWatch Coordinator, Community Relations Department, 204-985–8737 or 1–888–767–7640 (toll free).

To avoid a collision, drivers, parents and pedestrians are encouraged to observe the following safety tips:

  • Look well ahead to spot school buses and school zone signs; reduce speed in school zones, and wait for children to cross completely before proceeding.
  • Stop at least five metres behind a school bus when the upper red lights begin to flash, and do not proceed until the “stop sign” is closed and the red lights stop flashing. Motorists travelling in both directions must stop for the school bus, except if the road is divided by a median.
  • Scan under parked cars for the feet of children approaching traffic, and make lane changes early to allow room for children on bicycles, skateboards or roller blades.
  • If you are driving your children to school, drop them off in a safe area, away from traffic; use a designated drop-off zone if the school has one.
  • Cross only at intersections whenever possible, preferably at those controlled by signs or traffic control signs.
  • When crossing the street, regardless of the availability of signals, cross as quickly as possible. Minimize time in the roadway.
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