If the province decides to reduce speed limits in school zones, the Brandon Police Service will be ready to enforce them, but admit exceptions could be made when it comes to busier routes.
“The police service will certainly endorse any safety initiative, especially lowering speeds around school zones to make it safer for the kids,” BPS Staff Sgt. Larry Yanick said.
September is back to school month. RCMP would like to offer these back to school safety tips to help ensure the safety of Manitoba students.Walking to school• Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route and your child is familiar with it. Walk with them until they know the route and can do it safely.•Always stop and look both ways before crossing the street.•Small children may be less cautious around traffic. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.• Consider having a designated adult walk to school with a group of neighbourhood children.•Walk or ride the bus with a "buddy."On the school bus• Always wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before leaving the curb.•Remain seated and do not move around on the bus.•Always board and exit the bus at a location that provides safe access to the school bus or the school.• Motorists are reminded to obey all signals when approaching a school bus. Fines for passing a stopped school bus are in excess of $600.Riding your bike•Always remember to wear a helmet, even on a short ride.•Ride on the right-hand side in the same direction as traffic.•Wear bright or high visibility clothing.•Know the rules of the road.•At busy intersections, get off your bike and walk across.Driving to school•Use extra caution around school zones, crosswalks and school buses.•Watch out for young pedestrians and cyclists.•Driver and passengers should always wear their seatbelts.Throughout Manitoba, novice teen drivers will be driving to and from school. Drivers are reminded to wear their seatbelts and ensure they aren't distracted by car stereos, cellphones, text messaging or other passengers.A ticket for distracted driving is approximately $200 and a safety concern for all who share the road.» RCMP
“Exactly how that’s going to work, I don’t know because obviously there’s some schools that buffer along major arteries, so that is something that is being addressed and discussed right now.”
As reported by the Winnipeg Free Press, legislation to amend the province’s Highway Traffic Act, tabled by Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, is waiting for the government’s stamp of approval.
The Free Press also reported that Winnipeg is the only large city in Western Canada that does not have a reduced speed limit in a school zone. The speed limit in Winnipeg, identical to Brandon, is 50 km/h in a residential area unless otherwise posted. While in other cities, the reduced speed limit in a school zone varies between 30 to 40 km/h.
Although a reduction in speed could make for a safer commute, slowing down may cause traffic to build up in high traffic areas. Exempting busy roadways from a lower speed restriction is being discussed between the BPS and the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Committee, Yanick said.
“What I think it would do for an area like 18th (Street) and Victoria (Avenue) is it would just bung down traffic pretty bad if you have to reduce the speed to say
30 km,” he said, referring to the area near Earl Oxford School. “Engineering has to play an important role in all of this because engineering effects the flow of traffic and everything else.”
He added that very few speeding tickets and collisions occur in school zones, which could mean drivers are following the rules of the road.
“In Brandon, we don’t really see an identified problem with collisions occurring in and around the schools, except for, of course, 18th and Victoria, which is a busy intersection,” Yanick said.
The BPS recently requested information about the number of collisions in school zone areas from Manitoba Public Insurance.
Among the results compiled from 2010 to 2012, there were 16 collisions reported near École New Era School at Sixth Street and Lorne Avenue and 28 near J.R. Reid School at 26th Street and Park Avenue.
The majority of reported collisions, 144, occurred near Earl Oxford School at 18th Street and Victoria Avenue.
BPS also documented the number of public traffic complaints and tickets issued in school zones in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, BPS received 24 complaints and issued one ticket.
In 2012, 26 complaints were made and two ticket warnings were issued.
“For the most part, these schools are in residential areas, so there’s not a lot of problems occurring in those locations,” Yanick said.
Public complaints about motorists could range from speeding to passing a stopped school bus or travelling through a stop sign.
“It wouldn’t have been parking complaints, it would have been more traffic complaints and then we obviously got a few from school bus drivers,” Yanick said.
Lowering school-zone speed limits province-wide could also lead to more speeding tickets.
“It would be our responsibility to enforce lower speeds in the area around schools. My guess would be that we would get a number of speeders in school zones,” Yanick said.
“We always encourage motorists to drive more carefully, more cautiously and slow down if you’re reaching any school because you have to understand that kids may run across the road at anytime. It’s just common sense as you’re driving through a school area. Slow down, don’t maintain your same speed and with school coming up next week, that’s certainly a good point.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 31, 2013