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Drivers should be extra vigilant as Prince George schools reopen, navigate through COVID-19: RCMP

School-zone 30 km/h speed limits in effect as of this week
Police officer conducting speed watch in a school zone. (via File photo)

This week, Prince George students, both at public and private schools, are returning to the classroom in-person for the first time in about six months.

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to present challenges this year, so the RCMP is asking local commuters to do their part in making the transition and day-to-day studies as smooth and safe as possible.

School-zone speed limits are back in full force, meaning drivers are to slow down to 30 km/h between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. wherever posted.

“It’s been six months since many of our children have seen their friends. They will be distracted by excitement. As drivers and guardians, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they remain safe,” says Prince George RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass, noting most schools are back in session tomorrow (Sept. 10), but some private institutions have already begun.

“Commencement and dismissal times may vary for different students in the same school, causing students to be crossing streets at unconventional times,” the RCMP’s statement continues. 

“As such, we are asking drivers to be extra vigilant when travelling in school zones.”

School-zone violations start as low as $196 and increase depending on a driver’s speed.

If you fail to stop for a school bus, you could face a $167 fine as per provincial law as drivers in both directions must stop and wait until the bus disengages its red alternating signal lights.

The same dollar-amount applies for those who fail to obey a school guard or patrol officer.

While Prince George RCMP’s Traffic Services Section, frontline officers and volunteers will be conducting patrols at schools across the city to ensure everyone’s safety for the next month, they’re also asking students, parents and guardians to do their part as well.

Tips for Students:

  • Use designated crossing points and follow crossing signals where available
  • Remove headphones from music players and put down the cell phone when crossing the road
  • When crossing major roads, make sure that all lanes of traffic have stopped before walking across
    • Often drivers in the middle lanes don’t see pedestrians
  • Make eye contact with the drivers before stepping out onto crosswalks
  • Dress to be seen
    • Daylight hours are decreasing, so wear brighter colours or reflective material whenever possible
  • Walk on the sidewalk, or if unavailable, walk on the side of the road facing the traffic
  • Walk on well-lit routes with less traffic
  • Always be aware of your surroundings

Tips for Drivers:

  • Plan ahead, leave earlier to allow yourself extra time through school zones
  • Be alert to children near or around crosswalks and intersections
  • If a vehicle in a different lane slows or stops in front of you, slow down or stop and ensure that no one is on the crosswalk before proceeding
  • Always yield to pedestrians at intersections or designated crosswalks