Children are taught to respect each other and follow the rules early on in school. It’s only natural to expect that motorists who are driving in a school zone do the same by following the law to protect these young lives.
Unfortunately, it’s not always the case, especially during back-to-school season. September is a dark month for pedestrians, with its higher number of deaths, and a CAA survey has already shown that nearly half of Canadians have witnessed distracted driving in a school zone. In addition, 70% say they have noticed speeding too.
What follows is our yearly recall to encourage people to follow the best driving practices when near schools and school buses, so everyone can be safe.
Respect the Signs
Road signs in school zones indicate the speed limit and the presence of school crossings. Generally, these restrictions apply Monday to Friday from 7 am to 5 pm, and from September to June. That being said, watch out for crossing guards; their orders always have priority over the signage!
Begin to decelerate as soon as you see the advanced school zone or school crossing warning sign (yellow diamond with children on it). The same goes for school corridor signs (identified by a yellow oval). The school zone sign (yellow house-shaped pentagon with walking children) means that you are mpw inside the school zone. It’s always next to another white rectangular sign indicating the speed limit, which is usually 30 km/h and never exceeds 50 km/h.
The parking signs are also important! According to CAA, illegal parking is one of the dangerous driving behaviours that’s the most frequent in school zones. Make sure you park your vehicle only where it’s allowed and respect the parking time limit.
Rules … and Penalties
Since August 1st 2019, the Quebec Highway Safety Code specifies that fines for speeding in a school zone are doubled. A driver who exceeds the limit can receive a fine between $50 and $310, depending on the severity of the violation, as well as two demerit points.
Also, when you’re following a school bus, stop your vehicle as soon as the bus’s lights start to flash and its stop sign unfolds, and stay at least five metres away from it. The only exception is when a median separates you from the bus. If you overtake it while its flashing lights are on, you will be fined between $200 and $300 and nine demerit points.
More Good Practices
Apart from the law, there’s also civism and alertness. In a school zone and elsewhere, leave your phone alone and stay focused, keep both hands on the wheel and pay attention not only to the road, but also to the sidewalks.
You must be able to anticipate the unexpected. Children remain children and one of them can always spring in front of your car while trying to catch a ball or crossing the road without looking first.