Police urge drivers to watch for kids on the road as they head back to school

More than 80 kids are hit in school and playground zones each year

As streets and neighbourhoods fill up with backpack-toting kids for back-to-school, B.C. police are asking drivers to be extra careful on the roads.

“The start of school is an exciting time for both students and parents. The safety of children is our priority and our officers will be strict when they are enforcing the rules around school zones,” said Vancouver police Insp. Loris Zuccato.

“We all have a role to play in keeping students safe as they travel to and from school.”

More than 600,000 students headed back to class as another school year kicked off on Tuesday.

READ MORE: School zone speed limits back on in Maple Ridge

Police detachments around the province are teaming up with Insurance Corp. of B.C. for the “Think of Me” campaign, which asks drivers to pay attention in school zones and be cautious of kids near school buses.

Our goal is to educate and enforce school zone violations with a particular focus on distracted driving,” said Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughling.

“If you’re tired of hearing that message from police officers, perhaps you’ll be more receptive to hand-drawn ‘Think of Me’ cards that have been made by the students themselves.”

(Coquitlam RCMP)

The British Columbia Automobile Association is warning drivers to be especially watchful in the first few weeks of school, as both parents, kids and other drivers get reacquainted with having more little ones crowding the streets.

ICBC statistics show that 51 kids in the Lower Mainland are injured each year while in school and playground zones.

According to Dr. Ian Pike of The Community Against Preventable Injuries, those numbers have not dropped over the past 10 years.

“We wish to remind drivers to be alert, focused, not on their phones, and to drive like they expect a child to run out into the road,” said Pike.

Police ticketed nearly 8,000 drivers around the province for speeding or not paying attention in school and playground zones.

ICBC’s Drive Smart tips for drivers:

  • 3o km/h speed limits are in effect from 8 a.m. – 5p.m. in school zones on all school days
  • Playgrounds have s30 km/h speed limits in effect every day from dawn to dusk
  • When dropping off kids for school, always get them to exit on the sidewalk side of the car
  • Don’t let kids cross midblock
  • Follow the lead of other drivers if they stop suddenly in a school zone
  • Watch for school buses and when their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.
  • Always look for kids and other pedestrians when starting to drive in a school zone
  • In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby

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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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