Buses line up to pick up students outside the elementary school in McBride. The bus drivers stagger the buses to help block off the street to traffic during pickup to help keep the children safer during loading. /ANDREA ARNOLD

By Andrea Arnold

School is back in session and as students are making their way to and from school, RCMP are advising motorists to be aware.

The Nanaimo RCMP put out a bulletin reminding BC residents of road laws and the potential for injuries.

“Every year dozens of children across BC are needlessly injured in school zones and playgrounds. One injured child is too many.”

They want to remind motorists that when a school bus is stopped and the red lights are flashing, all motorists must stop. If children are present and the red lights are not flashing, play it safe until the kids are on board and the bus starts to move. 

“Please remember that kids exiting a school bus may cross the road in front of the bus,” said McBride RCMP Corporal Colin Bissell. “Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing creates an incredibly high risk of a catastrophic event.”

Playground speed zones remain 30km/h seven days a week from dawn to dusk. 

“School zones (speed limits of 30km/h) are in effect from 8:00am – 5:00pm on all days when school is in session and will be strictly enforced,” said Bissell.

The message from the RCMP also reminds parents and guardians to help keep their children safe through decision making and actions. While preparing for school, make sure backpacks fit properly and are not too heavy. During pick up and drop off, encourage children to use the door closest to the sidewalk, park in a way that this is easily achieved, and remind your kids to never accept a ride with someone they don’t know. The RCMP recommends you set up a safe word with your children to be used if arrangements have been made for someone other than yourself to pick them up.

If your child makes the trip to and from school by foot or bike, remind them to only use crosswalks, and to always look both ways before crossing a road, make eye contact with approaching drivers, and make sure the vehicle is slowing down before starting to cross. If a bike is the primary mode of transportation, remind the child to dismount and walk across when at an intersection. 

For all students, impeding the ability to hear their surroundings is dangerous. Earbuds, regular headphones and noise cancelling headphones create a lack of awareness of what is going on around them. This may cause a vehicle or another person to get too close to them, or worse. Lastly, parents are asked to remind your child to never go within two arm lengths of a vehicle if a driver has stopped to talk to them.