Tips for Safe Driving in School Zones

Mohammad Habib has spent many mornings and afternoons patrolling the crosswalks of Edmonton’s Fraser School. He’s now in Grade 7, but his experience on the corner as an AMA School Safety Patroller has made him a strong advocate for safe driving, particularly in school zones. His advice for drivers is simple: “Have a little respect for the kid with the vest and stop sign.” He and the 16,000 school safety patrollers across Alberta have some tips for motorists.

Slow Down in School Zones

The speed limit in school zones across Alberta is 30km/h between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every school day, but not all drivers are following the rules. “I remember trying to cross once and someone was coming at us doing 50 or 60,” Habib remembers. “When we put out our signs, they didn’t stop, so we had to hold back the kids. It can get pretty frustrating.”

Be Patient & Wait for Kids to Walk

Small children are not the fastest pedestrians, nor does it matter to them that you’re late for work. Many are walking to school for the first time on their own and just learning to pay attention while crossing alone. “Little kindergarteners can be hard to see, and they take a while to cross.”

Always Avoid Driving While Distracted

Always look out at the road, not at your phone. “We see so many drivers not paying attention at all. We often see drivers in the morning talking on their phones, cellphone in one hand, not even hands-free.” There’s so much activity happening in a school zone that patrollers need motorists to pay attention to the important task of driving.

Cross at the Crosswalk

Mom and Dad, you’re not setting a good example by jaywalking. Regardless of your age, please use the designated crosswalks. Jaywalking adds to the confusion of who’s crossing where. “I had to tell one parent four times not to jaywalk because it’s dangerous for everyone. That’s when I learned that the fine can be as high as a couple hundred dollars, so telling them that definitely helped.”

Park Away from the School

Parents who disregard ‘No Parking’ signs contribute to congested school zones. “Most schools have a designated zone away from the crosswalk for parents to use when dropping off and picking up their kids, but some people insist on parking where they shouldn’t,” Habib says. “Once we saw the police giving them all tickets. They weren’t happy, but the signs are there for safety reasons.”

Westworld is the award-winning magazine of the Alberta Motor Association. It offers a mix of travel features, auto trends and special member savings.