Police warn motorists to drive with caution as school starts

·3 min read

Lethbridge police are reminding drivers of basic road safety rules as kids get back to school starting this week.

With the return to school more vehicles and pedestrians will be on the roads and walkways. The Lethbridge Police Service is asking drivers to use caution in residential areas and to adhere to speed limits in school and playground zones.

“Some of the school zones are coming into effect tomorrow. We want to make sure motorists are aware there is going to be increased traffic and pedestrians in and around certain schools. Most of the other school divisions will be coming into effect either next week or after the long weekend,” said Sgt. Danny Lomness with LPS on Tuesday at St. Paul School.

Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit is highlighting back to school safety, the theme of the provincial Select Traffic Enforcement Program this September. To enhance safety LPS will be concentrating on school zones in the area.

“We will be focusing on school zones and playground zones, more at the start of the school year, to bring attention to everybody and the safety surrounding it,” said Lomness.

For pedestrians, remember to be aware of the area around the vehicle when exiting, check for vehicles when crossing into roadways, make eye contact with drivers when approaching intersections, and be aware of both yourself and others when walking in trafficked areas.

Cyclists should not be on sidewalks unless on designated multi-use pathways, dismount a bike before using a crosswalk, and be aware of others, both pedestrians and motorists.

Drivers should be aware of school zones, with the return to school on Aug. 31 for Holy Spirit Catholic School Division and Lethbridge School Division on Sept. 6. Traffic enforcement for school zones will begin on those dates where students are attending. School zones come into effect 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. and playground zones are always in effect from 8:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset. With varying start dates for schools in the region, the Traffic Response Unit suggests following speed zone limits for all schools if drivers are uncertain if certain school zones are now in effect.

“Tickets can range from $80 to $500. If you are going over 50km per hour it can be an automatic court appearance,” said Lomness.

Bus safety is also key for motorists and pedestrians. LPS would like to remind residents of the rules surrounding the safety and procedure with them.

“In Lethbridge, typically, you’ll see the school buses parked off the side of the road, you need to be yielding to the school buses. Some of the kids may not know, or forget, that they need to exit onto the sidewalk. You have to pay attention that there are no kids going in front of the school bus or behind school buses,” said Lomness. “If you see any red lights flashing on the school buses, you have to stop until those red lights are done flashing.”

Awareness is key for drivers with more commuters on the road, obstacles can obstruct the view of smaller children when approaching crosswalks. Always yield to pedestrians and allow the appropriate distance between vehicles in front of you. Distracted driving is a $300 fine and three demerit points in Alberta and can lead to more serious charges if accidents occur.

“Everybody’s excited for the start of school. It is a drastic difference of traffic flow, especially in some residential areas. Parents, students, even residents in and around schools and playground zones need to be aware that kids are going to be walking to and from school, riding their bikes, scootering, as well as other cyclists and motorists on the road,” said Lomness.

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald