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Busy back-to-school roads in the North Okanagan drive safety reminder

RCMP urge motorists to slow down and watch for students, or face fines
Congestion around areas schools is back as students return to classrooms this week. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

As students in the North Okanagan head back to school, the RCMP want to remind everyone that speed restrictions in school zones are back in effect this week.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 6, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP officers and the City of Vernon RCMP volunteers will have an increased presence in school zones throughout the area making sure drivers are aware and paying attention. Motorists are reminded that most schools are out three hours early today, therefore students will be out around 12:00 p.m.

“It’s an exciting time as we kick off the start of a new school year,” said Const. Neil Horne, school resource officer. “The roadways around our schools are going to be incredibly busy as thousands of kids make their way back to classes this week. With all the excitement of going back to school, kids might not always be thinking about safety which is why it’s particularly important for motorist to use caution, pay close attention, and obey the speed limit when driving through these areas.”

Drivers are reminded that a 30-kilometre-an-hour speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Vernon and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Armstrong and Enderby, when school is in session. In playground areas, the 30km/h limit is from dawn until dusk, unless otherwise posted.

“Police are also asking parents to talk to their kids. Teaching our children the rules of the road and to pay attention to their surroundings is essential to their safety,” adds Horne. “After a long summer break, children of all ages, even older ones, can benefit from a refresher on pedestrian safety and the start of new school year is a good opportunity to have these discussions.”

Safety tips for parents, students, and drivers


• Use designated drop off lanes for your children and obey traffic rules in school parking lots;

• Avoid double-parking by stopping and unloading in non-designated parking/drop-off zones.

• Teach your child how to cross the street safely and direct them to the closest designated crosswalk;

• Watch closely for children moving in and around vehicles in drop off areas;

• Give yourself plenty of time and be patient


• Use crosswalks or designated areas to cross roads.;

• Avoid distractions and pay attention to your surroundings;

• Remove headphones and put away your phones;

• Make eye contact with drivers and makes sure all traffic has stopped before stepping out onto roads;

• Walk on the sidewalk, or if unavailable, walk well off the side of the road facing the traffic.


• Plan ahead and leave earlier, especially if you’re route takes you through school zones

• Avoid distractions! Pay close attention for children in and around crosswalks, intersections, and drop off zones

• Be prepared for the unexpected, children, particularly younger ones, can be unpredictable and can dart into traffic

• Always stop for a school bus with it’s red lights flashing

Common offences under the BC Motor Vehicle Act around schools and parks include:

• Speed in school zone or playground zone 1-20 km/h over - $196

• Speed in school zone or playground zone 21-40 km/h over - $253

• Fail to obey school guard or school patrol: $167

• Fail to stop for school bus: $368

• Fail to yield to pedestrian at crosswalk: $167

“Everyone in the community needs to take an active role in road safety and we all share the responsibility to ensure students in our communities make it to and from school safely.”

READ MORE: Okanagan motorists use caution as students return to school

READ MORE: Back to school movement hits Falkland


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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