With COVID-19, students will have a very different school experience in 2020, however Cranbrook RCMP is reminding that the rules of the road remain the same.

As students officially return to class on September 10th, and with schools fully opening to staff on September 8th, Cranbrook RCMP will be ramping up enforcement around school zones.

“It’s crucial that drivers slow down in school zones, watch for crosswalks, and be mindful of children,” said Cst. Katie Forgeron. “Be alert and watch for kids riding to school on their bikes. We all want our children to arrive at school and home safely.”

Forgeron said school zone speeds are one of the biggest areas of concern for RCMP.

“I think the biggest habit we all need to get back into is realizing the 30 km/hr school zones between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm daily during the school year,” Forgeron told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “It’s hard to get back into it, we’ve been driving 50 km/hr all summer but we need to wrap our minds around the fact that next Thursday, it’s 30 km/hr school zones.”

As well, Forgeron said motorists must remember to stop for school buses with flashing red lights, no matter the direction of the bus, or in which lane you are driving.

“People need to realize that even if the kids are getting on the same side of the road as the bus, traffic has to stop in both directions when the flashing red lights are on, that’s because kids could be running across the street and you just don’t notice them. Everybody needs to stop for that, and that’s a pretty hefty fine, it’s $368 for failing to stop for the school bus.”

Cranbrook RCMP provided the following tips for drivers as school returns:

  • When school is in session, a 30 km/hr school zone speed limit is in effect from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every school day, unless otherwise posted
  • Plan ahead and be alert
    • Driving routes with less traffic in the summer may now face congestion, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination
  • Take your time and don’t rush – especially through intersections
    • Look for children especially near or around crosswalks and intersections close to schools
  • When dropping off children in a school zone stop and allow them to exit onto the sidewalk side of the car
    • Never allow a child to cross mid-block
    • Refrain from stopping on the crosswalk in order to let your kids out of the vehicle
  • If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop
  • Always watch for pedestrians when you’re backing up
    • Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to ensure no small kids are behind it
    • remember, children will notice your driving behaviour as well as your pedestrian behaviour, so please set a good example for them

Cranbrook RCMP also outlined the various fines under the BC Motor Vehicle Act relating to the school safety:

  • Failing to stop for a school bus – $368
  • Speeding in a school or playground zone – $196 to $253
  • Failing to yield for a pedestrian – $167
  • Passing a vehicle yielding to a pedestrian – $167
  • Disobeying school guards and school patrol – $167

Although Cranbrook RCMP is reminding motorists of the road rules, they are also asking students to be extra cautious as well.

“Students also need to be aware of vehicles and not just randomly walk out into traffic,” Forgeron told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “Sometimes kids think that because they’re on a crosswalk they’re safe, but unless those vehicles are stopped they’re not safe, so they have to make sure that before they cross the road that all traffic is stopped in both directions.”

Forgeron said Cranbrook RCMP just wants everyone to be safe and to be aware of each other, to have a safe start to the school year and for the remainder of the school season.