School zone safety top of mind: Manitoba Public Insurance and police partner to keep children safe

With Manitoba students now settled back into their school routines, Manitoba Public Insurance and Manitoba’s police agencies are sending a reminder to all drivers to stay vigilant in watching for children and driving with caution, particularly in school zones.

In addition to raising awareness about school zone safety, Manitoba’s public auto insurer is once again partnering with law enforcement agencies throughout the province to fund enhanced enforcement activities in and around schools over the month of September.

Now in its sixth year, funding of approximately $70,000 will assist eight police agencies in enhancing their patrols around schools in the mornings and afternoons when pedestrian activity and school bus/vehicle traffic volumes are heaviest. Participating agencies include the RCMP and police services in Winnipeg, Brandon, Winkler, Morden, Ste. Anne, Rivers, and Altona.

“Combining public awareness about back-to-school safety with the high visibility of police enforcement serves as a reminder for all motorists to slow down and drive with care in school zones,” said Satvir Tkachuk, vice-president responsible for Corporate Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance.

Over the past five years, participating police agencies have issued more than 5,000 provincial offence notices to motorists for various infractions ranging from speeding to use of a hand-held electronic device while driving, and failure to stop at pedestrian crosswalks and other traffic control devices. Last year, participating police agencies monitored a total of 124 different school locations in both urban and rural communities. Photo radar speed enforcement in school zones is not a part of this partnership initiative.

“The nature and sheer volume of these offences is concerning because they put our children at risk,” said Tkachuk. “Through this public awareness and enforcement campaign – along with our support for the school patrol program – our goal is to ensure that all of our young people can safely walk or cycle to school and home again without risk of being injured in a motor vehicle collision.”

SpeedWatch program

To assist with school zone safety and heighten awareness about vehicle speeds, Manitoba Public Insurance also offers speed reader boards to community organizations and school parent advisory groups through its popular SpeedWatch program. School or parent groups can borrow the equipment at no charge to help raise motorist awareness about speed limits and vehicle travel speeds as they pass through school zones.

Interested groups can call Manitoba Public Insurance’s SpeedWatch coordinator at 204-985–8737 or 1–888–767–7640 (toll-free) for more information or to book a speed reader board.

Important back-to-school safety tips

For Drivers:

  • 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 are flashing, 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.

For Parents:

  • 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.
  • Talk to your children about traffic safety and the importance staying alert to the traffic around them. This includes staying off cell phones and other electronic devices and being smart pedestrians.

For Children:

  • Cross only at intersections whenever possible, preferably at those controlled by patrols, signs or traffic control signs.
  • When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to be sure you are seen and cross as quickly as possible to minimize time in the roadway.
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