As the school year approaches, motorists are asked to stay vigilant on the roads.
The North Grenville Road Safety Committee is reminding everyone to be safe as they travel to and from school. It reminded motorists to watch for children and school buses as they make their way towards school starting next week.
Since roads will soon be busier as school buses and students make their way to school, whether that is by foot, by bike or car, motorists should be prepared to slow down and stop for anyone at crosswalks or school buses allowing students to get on and off.
"We've had a lot of change this last year and a lot of reduced traffic on the road as well," said OPP Acting Sgt. Annie Collins.
"People are not going to be used to seeing school buses on the roadways and they're going to have to remember there's going to be a lot of children out," many of whom may be excited and distracted to finally go back to in-person learning rather than mainly focusing on the road as they travel towards their schools, said Collins.
"We want to make sure the drivers are aware that they need to be extra vigilant," added Collins.
Collins and the North Grenville Road Safety Committee, which is comprised of the Municipality of North Grenville, the North Grenville Police Services Board, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, the Grenville County Ontario Provincial Police, and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, are reminding motorists to be extra cautious around stopped school buses, as children could be crossing from the opposite side and to be aware of the school zones and community safety zones.
A school zone is an area within 150 meters on either side of a school and has a lower speed limit during school hours.
A community safety zone is an area where public safety is a concern, such as areas around schools.
North Grenville has six schools with safety zone designations; drivers are asked to reduce their speed as they pass through these areas.
"We want the whole roadway to be aware that there is a school coming up, and ensuring that people know that there will be children walking, especially in North Grenville ... with focuses on walking to school on some of the more country roads that don't have the same pavement sidewalks that would perhaps give them some more protection to slow down traffic," said Collins.
Speed fines double in areas marked as community safety zones and both the community safety zone and school zone are marked with different signs.
"It's illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing," said Collins, adding passing a school bus with its lights on and stop arm out could lead to a fine and six demerit points for first offenders, possible jail time for repeat offenders.
"Right now we’re going out there with zero tolerance; we want drivers to know that we're going to be really in the school zones and doing a lot of extra patrol," she added.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times