Improving the safety and wellbeing of our youth is and has always been one of our top priorities. Schools and parents are demanding the installation of newer technologies and enhanced signs in front of schools, while authorities are increasing speeding tickets based on the assumption that this will improve safety. These may be steps in the right direction; however, we believe that safety starts with each and every one of us.
Driving through rural school zones has its own set of hazards and challenges, some of which include unsafe roads due to irregular clearing of snow throughout the winter and low-visibility signage and animals. We are reminding drivers to always use extra caution and pay attention to the drop-off and pick-up zones as these are typically very busy areas. In addition to this, several research studies have proved that even a small decrease in speed can have a significant impact on a child’s safety. Therefore, it is important that drivers use extra caution while driving through rural school zones in order to reduce the risk of accidents and the burden of injury to children.
Be Aware. Slow Down.
Rural School Zones
Reduce your Speed
The speed limit in school zones across Alberta is 30km/h between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every school day.
This also applies to rural school zones.
Pay extra attention in drop off and pick up zones. Mornings and after school are the busiest times for teachers, parents, kids and drivers. Minimize the risk by parking down the block away from all the action. Scan between parked cars, avoid bus zones, don’t stop near crosswalks or let passengers out in the middle of the road. Avoid jaywalking and illegal u-turns.
Patience is key. Let kids cross the road at their own pace. We all have somewhere to be and slowing down to let students cross the road won't delay you too long.
Look out for Animals
When driving through rural Alberta, it is important to always be on the lookout for animals, this applies in school zones as well. Animals are always around and it doesn't take long for one to jump out in front of a moving vehicle. To keep yourself and others safe, always drive with caution and be on the lookout for animals crossing the road.
Be Cautious of Road Conditions
We Albertan's get our fair share of snow, making the road conditions unpredictable at times. Driving through a rural community can be drastically different than driving through a city. The rural roadways are not cleared as often (if at all) and often have fewer street lights than metropolitan or suburban areas, therefore drivers should expect darker conditions when driving on rural roads at night. Snow, fog and rain can leave the roads in less than ideal conditions for driving. Stopping distances on icy roads are more than double that of dry roads. In addition to this, visibility may be suddenly reduced at times of heavy snowfall. Leaving space, slowing down and being aware of the other vehicles on the road can lead to a safer, less stressful drive.