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Information Bulletin - Back to School

August 24, 2007

Drivers advised to use caution and watch out for school children

Edmonton… In the excitement of returning to school, children may forget basic road safety rules as they walk, bicycle and ride the bus to schools across Alberta. Throughout the province, traffic injuries are the leading cause of death and a leading cause of hospitalization to children younger than 14. Motorists are urged to use caution when driving through residential areas and adhere to speed limits in school or playground zones.

Children have difficulty judging oncoming vehicles’ speed and a tendency to dart out into the street in pursuit of a friend, pet or toy. Also, their short height makes children harder for drivers to see. A child's reaction to danger differs from that of an adult; for instance, the approach of a car may prompt a child to run faster across the street instead of staying on the sidewalk as an adult would. Fatigue and lack of attention increase the risk of a child suffering a pedestrian injury on the way to or from school.

To keep children safe, motorists should:

  • Scan farther down the road and obey posted speed limits. Always be prepared to slow down or stop.
  • Avoid loud music and other distractions when driving.
  • Use caution when approaching intersections or mid-block crosswalks. Parked or stopped vehicles may hide a pedestrian who is crossing the road. The fine for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross is $575 and four demerit points.
  • Watch for the school safety patrol in their orange vests and stop as directed. Patrollers play a vital role in directing children safely across the street.
  • Be very cautious in parking lots or when backing out of a parking stall or driveway.
  • Watch for kids between parked vehicles and on the sidewalk. They may dash out into the street after a friend or a toy.

Speed limit in school and playground zones
The speed limit in a school zone is 30 km/h unless otherwise posted and is in effect on school days from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. unless other times are posted. The speed limit in a playground zone is 30 km/h unless otherwise posted and is in effect from 8:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset. A vehicle is not permitted to pass another vehicle travelling in the same direction in either school or playground zones during the times that these zones are in effect.

Improving traffic safety is one of the actions under Premier Ed Stelmach's plan to provide Albertans with safe and secure communities. Other priorities for the government are to govern with integrity and transparency, improve Albertans’ quality of life, manage growth pressures, and build a stronger Alberta. For more information about traffic safety, contact the Office of Traffic Safety at (780) 422-8839 or visit http://www.saferoads.com/.

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Media enquiries may be directed to:

Jeanette Espie
Office of Traffic Safety
Alberta Transportation
(780) 427-6588
Eileen McDonald
Alberta Transportation
(780) 422-0842 (780)913-4609 (cell)

To call toll-free within Alberta dial 310-0000.