Police will be upping patrols near school grounds when classes begin on Tuesday.
Not everyone is aware school is back in session so Cpl. Darryl Orr reminds all drivers to mind the school speed zones and consider the high volume of kids making their way to and from school.
“The local detachment will definitely have our radar guns out,” he warns, noting members are assigned specific school zones. “And there’s not a lot of leeway, expect top fines.”
School zones are in effect Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During this time, drivers are required to slow to 30 km/hr and if caught breaking the law, can expect a ticket and points against their licence. A fine can be anywhere from $196 to $253 for speeding in a school zone as well as three points. Excessive speeding, 40-plus km/h over the posted limit will yield a fine of $368 to $483, three points, and a seven-day vehicle impound.
There are other offences that can hit the pocketbook: failure to yield to pedestrians (in a crosswalk or at a corner) comes in at $167 and three points, disobeying a school guard adds up to three points and a $167 fine, and failure to stop for school bus rolls in at $368 plus three points.
Another big ticket, which Orr says is the “kiss of death” especially for those new at the wheel, is driving with a cell phone or other electronic device. That offence will cost $368 and four points – for new and “L” drivers, the violation will most likely result in a driving prohibition for three months.
Orr also relays the message to high school students that, “Driving is a privilege, not a right.”
He says enforcement is not singling out teen-aged drivers per se. Rather officers will be checking for safety infractions at this most crucial point before gaining a permanent licence – like seat belt compliance, passenger restrictions, official “N” signs in place, and no hands-free or hand-held devices of any kind while driving.
“We will be up at the high school right off the bat,” said Orr. “We are not specifically targeting new drivers, we want to get them to their Class 5 safely,” he added. “But once they get that “N” they are under heavy scrutiny because the next 18 months are the most important of their (driving) life, so we are stringent and during that time, we are making sure they comply.”
For example, he says if the driver has over passengered (N drivers are only allowed one passenger unless they are immediate family members), 50 per cent of the time the person sitting in the middle back seat, doesn’t have a seat belt on.
“It’s not that we are trying to ‘catch’ returning high school students,” he said. “We just want to make sure they are complying – and again, there’s not a lot of leeway.”
In B.C., 78 children aged five to 18 are injured in crashes in school or playground zones every year, according to ICBC. Of this number, about 14 children live in the Southern Interior.
Parents are encouraged to review the rules of the road with their children and go over their daily route to and from school.
Tips for drivers from ICBC: Every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When you’re dropping off your children in school zones, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
If a vehicle’s stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.
Watch for school buses. Vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.
Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure no small children are hidden from your view. Always look for pedestrians when you’re backing up.