OHSWEKEN — Students in the local area are back to school this week and with that comes extra efforts by motorists and police alike to make sure students are safe on the roads of the community.
Police say they will be conducting a “Back to School” traffic initiative for the month of September. Traffic units will be patrolling Six Nations roadways enforcing traffic safety and focusing attention on school zones, bus routes and areas of high pedestrian and student traffic.
Police are alerting all motorists to drive safe, obey posted speed limit signs in school zones, never attempt to pass a school bus and do not operate mobile devices while driving.
In 2019, Ontario rolled out new penalties for distracted driving. Drivers distracted by talking, texting, dealing or emailing on a mobile device while sitting behind the wheel of a car will be fined up to $1000 and could include a three-day license suspension and three demerit points.
If you are convicted twice within five years the fine rises to $2000 plus 6 demerit points and a 7 day license suspension.
If you are convicted a third time, you could be fined $3000, receive 6 demerit points and a 30 day drivers license suspension.
These convictions would also raise a person’s car insurance rates considerably.
If you hold a graduated license the new penalties are even harsher. With first time convictions receiving a 30 day license suspension, 2nd offence will get you suspended for 90 days and your license will be cancelled if you are convicted three times of distracted driving.
Police say that distracted drivers are now the leading cause of fatal collisions in the province.
BACK TO SCHOOL ROAD SAFETY
- Give yourself extra time. You could run into a bit of traffic congestion and rushing in a school zone is a no-no.
- Watch for pedestrians. Children running late and in a hurry might forget to look for oncoming cars.
- Slow down. The speed limit in school zones and near playgrounds is 40 km/hr
- Stop for school buses. If a school bus is displaying flashing red lights and an extended stop arm, traffic in both directions you must stop. You may only continue when the lights stop flashing.
- Keep your distance. School buses stop frequently – keep your distance and leave extra room for sudden stops.
- Obey signage: no stopping zones. Don’t stop driving or let kids out of the car in a no stopping zone.
- Obey signage: no parking zones. Don’t park in a no parking zone. School buses or other school vehicles may need access to these areas to safely unload their student passengers.
- Drive safely. Never overtake other vehicles and avoid U-turns and three-point turns in school zones or near crosswalks.
- Obey crossing guards. Listen and watch crossing guards – and ensure you allow pedestrians and crossing guards to reach the sidewalk before proceeding. It’s the law.
- Avoid distractions and focus on driving. If you’re on the phone, eating or sipping your coffee, your reaction time will be slower if a child darts out into your path.