Physics tells us that when something really big and heavy—like a car—smashes into something much smaller—like a person—the impact and shearing forces can be catastrophic or even fatal. This is where speed limits and zones come into play.
Every week day from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. during the academic year, the roads near our schools have a posted speed limit of 30 km/h. However, with school only back in session this week, some are forgetting to slow it down in the appropriate places.
“RCMP urge motorists to be watchful for children on the roads,” said Cpl. Mike Rail, spokesperson for the UFVRD. “This is also a good time for parents to speak to their kids about road safety.”
To drive home the messages of school zone speed limit safety, Chilliwack’s Speed Watch group was out in full force on the first day of classes reminding people to decelerate.
“We had four volunteers, three police officers, and our Sergent Safety Bear all out,” explained Nancy Drewery, who manages the local Speed Watch chapter.
Staked out at Bernard Elementary School, Drewery says of the 702 vehicles checked, only two were recorded as speeding through the school zone.
“The highest speed we recorded was 68 km/h,” she continued. More than twice the legal speed limit.
“With our high visibility, (almost) everyone’s being compliant, which is really great,” continued Rail. “That’s what this is all about, it’s about everyone being safe.”
Another issue Drewery mentioned was illegal parking in bicycle lanes. “If you park in the bike lane … it forces (people) either onto the sidewalk or into traffic, which can be dangerous.”
Although Speed Watch volunteers cannot issue tickets, they do send letters that let drivers know their actions were witnessed, the possible fine that could be incurred.
“But if it’s excessive speed—40 k.m. over the limit—I’ll send the information to the traffic department,” continued Drewery. “They can issue tickets based on our notes. We’ve even had to stand up and testify in court, but our information held up.”
Fines for speeding can range from $196 to $253, says Rail, and if a person is caught excessively speeding through a school zone, the fine can be upwards of $500 and their vehicle could possibly be impounded.
“Another important thing to note is school buses,” added Rail. “Both for leaving room and stopping for the buses. Their red flashing lights are definitely legal and mean stop!” The fine for disobeying a school bus is $358.
And last but not least, Rail says it’s important to remember playground zones. “Where ever there’s a school zone, there’s usually a playground zone in the same area, and they carry the same fines.”
However, while school zones are only in effect during the school year, playground zones are in effect 365-days a year, from dawn until dusk.