School zone safety

Safe Community Wood Buffalo reminds residents to stay ‘In the Zone’

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

Mason Pearcey checked out the safety signage, while enjoying the ‘In the Zone’ event.

Mason Pearcey checked out the safety signage, while enjoying the ‘In the Zone’ event.

It’s not a suggestion. The 30 km/hr speed limit in school zones is the law, and meant to protect children. This was one of the central messages of Safe Community Wood Buffalo’s ‘In the Zone’, back to school safety event. Hosted in Holy Trinity High School on September 24, the event featured bus rides, visits with RCMP and Bylaw, and a free BBQ by ATCO, as well as many messages of safety.

Lesley Pearcey, Childhood Injury Prevention Coordinator with Safe Community Wood Buffalo, a non-profit organization in town since 1992, oversaw the event. She highlighted the reasons for hosting it.

“Now that schools are back on, our goal was to remind everyone about crosswalks, not speeding in school zones, and distracted driving. While this was mainly about the kids, it’s also targeting the parents making sure everyone is being safe in their school zones,” explained Pearcey.

Lesley Pearcey, Childhood Injury Prevention Coor- dinator with Safe Community Wood Buffalo says everyone needs to do their part in keeping children safe.

Lesley Pearcey, Childhood Injury Prevention Coordinator with Safe Community Wood Buffalo says everyone needs to do their part in keeping children safe.

Dave Harris, Operations Manager with Sparksman appreciated the event, and the opportunity to participate.
“It’s our third year here highlighting safety, which is the most important thing for Sparksman. Safe Community Wood Buffalo is a good cause. This year, we brought a handi-bus, (which helps students in wheelchairs). Not many people are familiar with it, so we had a few questions about it from attendees. We have about 13 handi-buses and about 80 buses in our fleet. And, we do about 56 school routes daily,” shared Harris.

Speaking of safety, despite an increased awareness from local and national media on school zones, and distracted driving, Pearcey noted, the challenges continue.

“This is still a huge issue, especially with schools in high traffic areas. Some of our parent and teacher attendees shared the same concerns. A lot of time people will not realize they are in a school zone until they are half-way through, and especially given our extended summer this year, we are making sure people get those reminders again,” she added.

Dave Harris, Sparksman Operations Manager, showed attendees how a handi-bus works.

Dave Harris, Sparksman Operations Manager, showed attendees how a handi-bus works.

It definitely helps with an increased RCMP and Bylaw presence, but we shouldn’t have a need for them to be there. Parents and teachers are doing a good job with reminders, but if you are running late a few minutes, and the bell rings, it’s not the end of the world. Parking is also a big issue. Plan ahead. If you want front of the school parking, leave early. Use the crosswalk to cross the street, and make sure everyone is safe.”

Back to School Facts (Source: http://www.saferoads.com)
• Nearly 50 per cent of the drivers involved in collisions with school buses committed an error. The most common error was following too closely.
• On average each year, approximately 238 children under 15 are killed or injured as pedestrians or cyclists (2010-2014).
• School buses in Alberta travel an estimated 450,000 kilometres a day – that’s more than 10 times around the earth!
• The penalty for failing to stop for a school bus with its alternating flashing red lights activated is $543 and six demerit points.
• 70 per cent of casualty collisions and nearly 90 per cent of property damage collisions involving a school bus occurred in urban areas.

– Connect Weekly –