September 2, 2014 5:32 pm

Police urge road safety as children head back to school

WATCH ABOVE: What police are doing to keep kids safe in school zones. Carey Marsden reports. 

TORONTO – Police across the Greater Toronto Area are urging motorists to be mindful of school zones as thousands of children head back to class today.

Toronto police, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, launched its annual two week back-to-school campaign Tuesday.

The awareness strategy focuses on road-users and their poor driving habits.

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Police officers and Parking Enforcement Officers will be paying special attention to motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians who commit offences in the vicinity of school zones, including offences related to pedestrian crossovers, crosswalks, intersections and high-risk mid-block crossing behaviours.

Authorities will also be targeting aggressive driving offences such as prohibited turns, and distracted driving behaviours, along with “No Stopping” and “No Parking” restrictions within school zones.

But that didn’t stop people from speeding with officers in plain sight outside of Toronto schools Wednesday morning.

“There were some issues with people speeding. Every three or four minutes we’d see a car pulled over,” Constable Hugh Smith said. “We had people 20 kilometres over the speed limit, some 30 kilometres, with a high police presence in the area.”

Peel Regional Police are also warning motorists to obey school bus signals as all vehicles traveling behind or approaching must come to a complete stop.

Drivers who fail to stop can face a minimum $400.00 fine and six demerit points for a first offence.

WATCH: Many Ontario elementary and high school students went back to school on Tuesday. Our Liem Vu caught up with one parent.

Police are also asking parents to review and practice safe crossing rules with their children.

Parachute Canada, a non-profit preventative injury group, say child pedestrian incidents are a leading cause of death for Canadian children under age 14.

More than 30 children are killed and 2,400 are seriously injured in a typical year.

“Make sure everybody is focused on walking,” Alex Kelly, a program coordinator with Parachute Canada said. “We need to makes sure that people are focused on walking, looking around and focused on their surroundings.”

Furthermore, most incidents happen between 3 and 6 p.m. when drivers are coming home from work and children are walking home from school or after-school activities.

Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Medical Association recently joined forces for a pedestrian safety campaign just in time for the new school year.

Below are a few handy safety tips for back to school.

For Parents, Caregivers and Children:

  • Walk on sidewalks where available
  • Always cross at intersections
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle
  • Always walk your bicycle across a roadway

When crossing intersections without signals or crossing guards, children should:

  • Stop before stepping into the road
  • Increase your visibility and indicate your crossing intention to motorists
  • Look in all directions before crossing
  • Stop, Look and Listen for traffic
  • Cross safely when the road is clear
  • Walk, don’t run, across the road
  • Where possible, use the buddy system

When crossing intersections with signals, children should:

  • Push the pedestrian button (where they exist)
  • Wait for the pedestrian walk sign
  • Increase visibility and indicate your cross intention to motorists
  • Stop, Look and Listen for traffic
  • Watch for turning cars or trucks
  • Cross safely when the road is clear
  • Walk, don’t run across the road

Railway Crossings:

Many children in our communities must cross railway tracks daily. Ensure children are taught the only safe place to cross railway tracks is at a designated crossing.

For Drivers:

  • Be aware of school zone signage.
  • Reduce speed in school zones.
  • Be ready to stop at all times. Children do not always notice oncoming traffic.
  • Always try to make eye contact with children waiting to cross the road.
  • Be patient and wait for children to complete their crossing before proceeding.
  • Stop when directed to do so by a crossing guard.

Source: Peel Regional Police

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