Drivers reminded to “Slow Down, Give Space and Park Smart” as students return to class

go slow no logoAs the summer season transitions into the excitement of a new school year, we are asking drivers to prioritize safety, especially near schools where increased activity poses potential risks for both motorists and children.

Jacquelyn Oriold, Mobility Education Specialist at The City of Calgary, says with most schools heading back tomorrow, it’s extremely important to watch out for students in our communities.

"With the start of the new school year, we are asking both children and parents to prioritize safety and responsibility by exercising extra caution and looking out for each other. Students should use designated crossings, where available, and avoid jaywalking or crossing from between parked cars. Drivers need to slow down and be aware of the higher number of pedestrians around them,” she adds.  

This week, we are launching a new "Be Safe" campaign focused on back-to-school safety to remind citizens that students are back to school and there is greater need to slow down and be diligent around schools.

The themes of this year's campaign are Watch Out, Slow Down, Give Space, Park Smart, and Be Courteous.

This fall, motorists should take extra caution and reduce speed when driving near playgrounds and schools. The maximum permitted speed in playground zones is 30 km/h.

·       Always watch for children in the vicinity of a school bus when it is stopped. Slow down and be prepared to stop.

·       Traffic congestion near schools can be problematic. Consider parking a block or two away and walking part of the way to school.

·       Do not park within 5 metres of a crosswalk to ensure children can see and be seen by traffic.

Park smart

Parking issues around drop-off and pick-up times often create dangerous conditions for students. Drivers will often park in prohibited areas, such as in front of crosswalks or driveways or blocking school buses.

“We understand that drop-off and pick-up times can be hectic, and parents and guardians are often rushing to drop their children off and carry on with their day. We want to get the word out that the safety of all children should be put above the individual’s convenience,” says Todd Sullivan, Leader, Patrol and Investigations for Calgary Parking.

As part of the School Patrol program, Parking Safety & Compliance Officers attend schools during peak times to provide guidance on safe parking. With hundreds of schools across the city, they’re not able to attend every school every day, and the hope is to spread these important messages.

“We’re asking parents to leave a few minutes early to avoid having to park dangerously and when possible, park a short distance away and walk the remaining distance to help alleviate congestion,” adds Sullivan.

“We also want to remind parents to be kind to our officers. They only have the children’s safety in mind and are there to address any questions or concerns. For the safety of everyone, we ask drivers to be considerate and park responsibly when dropping off and picking up children at schools. This plays a crucial role in creating a safe environment for our children.”

Pathway Safety

With the school year beginning and commuting volumes returning to normal, it's also important to remind students about safe movement on pathways. To ensure safety, all users of the pathway system, whether walking or using wheels, are encouraged to follow these guidelines:

·       Stay to the right of the path, except when passing others.

·       Maintain a safe distance of at least one meter from individuals being overtaken.

·       When approaching from behind, politely announce "passing on your left" to make your presence known.

·       Only pass when it is safe, ensuring no oncoming users and avoiding passing on blind corners or in underpasses.

“This year, let's approach the school year in 2023 with enthusiasm, a readiness to learn, and a commitment to practicing safe traffic and parking behaviors,” says Oriold.