Classes are back in session for most schools across Lennox and Addington starting Tuesday and local OPP are reminding drivers to be cautious near buses and school zones.
“School safety zones have lower speeds and that’ll be enforced,” said L&A OPP Cst. Shannon Cork. “There will be more people and more traffic on the road. There will be walkers going to school, cyclists, and more traffic of people returning to work and trying to get their children to school. It’s going to be a lot of busier, we just want to remind people that it needs to be safe for everyone involved.”
After a long break between in-class learning, young students might get distracted with the excitement of seeing old friends. Drivers are reminded to be extra careful when approaching a school zone or stopped school bus.
OPP officers will be watching for drivers who disobey traffic laws in relation to school bus safety and a zero tolerance approach will be taken. In accordance with the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) motorists encountering a stopped school bus that has its safety lights and equipment activated shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the safety lights and equipment have been deactivated. This applies whether a driver is meeting or following a school bus, and includes multi-lane roads. The only exception is when driving on a road with a median – traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop. Vehicle owners can be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they weren’t driving. If a bus driver reports an incident of a driver disobeying a traffic law, they need only catch the license plate of the vehicle. From there OPP can lay a charge against the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who was actually driving.
The fine for failing to stop for a school bus is $400 to $2000 and six demerit points for the first offence. Subsequent offences carry a fine between $1,000 and $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months).
Drivers should also be prepared to yield to student pedestrians and cyclists. Parents of students who will be walking or cycling to school are encouraged to speak with their children about the rules of the road that apply to them.
Police will have an increase presence in local school zones over the next couple of weeks to ensure drivers and pedestrians are following the rules to ensure everyone can return to school safely.