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‘Tragedies happen in the blink of an eye’: Back to school warning for B.C. drivers

Law enforcement agencies throughout the province are reminding motorists to slow down in school zones. The Canadian Press

With thousands of B.C. students heading back to school on Tuesday, drivers are being reminded to slow down and be extra aware in school zones.

Police departments across the province warned drivers that they would be conducting targeted enforcement.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility and we are here to remind people to plan ahead, give yourself plenty of time and avoid unnecessary distractions,” said Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Supt. Steve Eely.

WATCH: School zone safety tips

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School zone safety tips

“This will ensure everyone gets where they are going on time and in one piece.”

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Eely said drivers must be aware that the maximum speed around any school is now 30 kilometres per hour between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Eely added that drivers must always yield to pedestrians, but said pedestrians must also obey traffic signals and used marked crosswalks where available.

Where no crosswalk is available, pedestrians are reminded to cross intersections corner to corner.

“Tragedies happen in the blink of an eye,” said Eely.

“These rules are in place for everybody’s safety and we need everyone to be respectful of other road users.”

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READ MORE: B.C. teachers head back to class amid stalled contract negotiations

According to ICBC, about 380 children are injured in crashes while walking or cycling every year, and about five are killed.

It says about 86 kids are hurt in school and playground zones annually.

WATCH: Back to school road safety

Click to play video: 'Back to school road safety'
Back to school road safety

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province is urging drivers to simply slow down.

“It’s a dangerous time because too many people don’t pay attention. And that’s today’s message, it’s to pay attention, it’s to slow down, it’s to recognize that kids are back in school,” he said.

“I hope that parents will take a few extra minutes today to refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road and discuss safety with their kids,” added Vancouver City Coun. Melissa DeGenova.

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“Even if [parents are] thinking about safety themselves, it’s so important to teach those lessons.”

Drivers are also being reminded to be patient and to expect congestion around schools.

ICBC has also produced a tip sheet for drivers to help ensure they keep safe on the roads as school comes back into session.

ICBC tips for drivers

  • If you drop off your child in a school zone, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.

  • If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.

  • Watch for school buses and when their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.

  • Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure no small children are hidden from your view. Always look for pedestrians when you are backing up.

  • In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Watch for children as they could dash into the street at any moment.

  • Remember that every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In playground zones, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk.

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