Stratford police offer school-zone safety tips as students prepare to go back to class

Stratford police are reminding drivers to be especially cautions around young cyclists, crossing guards and school buses as students prepare to head back to the classroom after the long weekend.

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Stratford police are reminding drivers to be especially cautions around young cyclists, crossing guards and school buses as students prepare to head back to the classroom after the long weekend.

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Most of the region’s students return to school on Tuesday, so police have focused their latest monthly safety tips on school zones.

“We hope that these safety tips can help raise awareness regarding the obstacles faced in and around school zones and can help keep these areas safe for everyone,” Const. Darren Fischer, Stratford’s community resource officer, said in a release. “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we ask that you be mindful and patient over the next coming weeks, and throughout the entire school year.”

Police officers will be patrolling school zones through Stratford, St. Marys and Perth South, Fischer added. Parents and students are encouraged to ask an officer if they need help, or contact police by phone at 519-271-4141.

Tips for drivers

  • Please slow down. Speed limits are typically reduced within school zones, and although it is always important to obey posted speed limits, it is even more important to slow down during school hours. Driving at a safe and appropriate speed will help you to quickly react to unpredictable situations and can prevent disaster from happening.
  • Always stop for school buses. Regardless of what direction of travel you are going, you are required to come to a full and complete stop when you see the lights flashing and the stop arm extended on a school bus, and you must wait until the lights are turned off and the stop arm goes back in before continuing. Failure to do so can result in a costly ticket, or hitting a child who is exiting the bus.
  • Be aware of crossing guards. Become aware of where crossing guards are located on your driving route, and always be watching for crossing guards in unknown areas. When a crossing guard steps onto the roadway with the stop sign up, you must come to a stop.
  • Allow for more time. Roads are typically busier before and after school, and with school bus and crossing guard stops added to your drive, it can take you longer to get to where you are going, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination.

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Parking in school zones

  • To help improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists most roadways in and around school zones are designated as No Parking or No Stopping zones. Check for signage if you are dropping your child off at school and understand the difference between the two signs.
  • No Stopping means no stopping at any time for any length of time.
  • No Parking zones allow you to stop momentarily to allow your child to exit or enter the vehicle. Leaving your vehicle unattended, or even sitting in your vehicle while you wait for your child, is considered parking.
  • Consider carpooling or having a ride-sharing schedule with other parents to help reduce congestion in and around school zones.
  • Park a block or two away from the school and walk the rest of the way.
  • Encourage your children to walk or bike to school. This is not only a great form of exercise, but also teaches your children a variety of life skills.

Pedestrians and cyclists

  • Travel in Groups. Walk or bike with friends and neighbours. There is strength in numbers and this will also provide a good opportunity for extra social time.
  • Know your route. Practise the route to school with your child and discuss the risks of traffic and the rules of the road. Always use the same route to and from school and don’t use shortcuts.
  • Travel safely. Remain on the sidewalk when walking and make sure to cross the road safely and use designated crosswalks. If biking, stay on the right side of the road, use your hand signals, and always wear a helmet.
  • Be aware and be seen. Always watch for moving vehicles, and do not cut through parked cars, or anywhere that a driver may not be able to see you.

The Stratford Police Service’s monthly Questions for the Cops initiative is a new way local police are trying to connect with and inform the community they serve. Each month, Fischer publishes a Safety Tip of the Month on the police service’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as through local media such as the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Area residents are then invited to ask questions about the safety tips or any other community policing topics in the comments sections of those social media posts, which Fischer reads and answers at the end of each month through articles like this one.

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