‘Very hectic places:’ SGI reminding drivers to slow down in school zones

A speed limit sign marks a school zone at Riverside Community School. – Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

Students are strapping on their backpacks for a new year in the classroom – With the excitement comes reminders for drivers and parents to do their part in keeping children safe in school zones.

Media relations manager with SGI, Tyler McMurchy, said he spent Tuesday morning in school zones.

“The volume of traffic and the excitement was something to behold, really. Kids are coming to school, their parents are dropping them off, you’ve got school buses, in addition to the regular commuter traffic,” he said.

“They’re very hectic places.”

Prince Albert has four new school zones this year: Riverside School, Princess Margaret School, Ecole St. Anne School and Queen Mary School. 

City council passed amendments to the traffic bylaw last month after the Board of Police Commissioners requested a reduction in speeds, saying it was “deeply concerned with the potential of vehicle pedestrian accidents.”

“Fortunately, school zone collisions with pedestrians are quite rare in Saskatchewan. It’s not zero,” said McMurchy.

“We want to keep it that way or eliminate them entirely.”

A large part of reducing the likelihood of collisions is reminding drivers to obey speed limits and to drive without distractions.

In Prince Albert, drivers must slow down to at least 30 km/hr in school zones. U-turns in school zones are also prohibited.

“It gives you more cushion, more reaction time and also if a collision were to occur, it reduces the severity of it,” McMurchy said about decreased speed.

He said it’s also beneficial for parents to have conversations with their kids about being safe around moving vehicles. 

This includes looking both ways before crossing the street and not darting out on to the road – but still, these things are likely to happen.

“Kids don’t always do what they’re supposed to. They don’t always pay attention to the rules or instructions that they’re given, so really drivers need to make up that extra ground,” he said.

The Prince Albert Police Service is focusing on traffic enforcement in school zones throughout the week.

School zones are in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, from September to June.

Last year’s monthly Traffic Safety Spotlight from SGI found 195 tickets for speeding in school zones in Saskatchewan. This doesn’t include tickets from photo speed enforcement.

Ten drivers also received $230 tickets for failing to yield for pedestrians at crosswalks.

Statistics have varied, though, in recent years with 611 speeding tickets issued in 2021, 673 in 2020 and 1,424 in 2019.

RCMP say so far this year, officers with Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan (CTSS) have laid 159 charges and given 81 warnings for speeding in school zones.

The RCMP is also reminding parents to be cognizant of what they’re posting on social media.

It recommends limiting posting personal information such as your child’s school, age and favourite things, as well as ensuring the background of the photo doesn’t give away where you live.