Manitoba Public Insurance is once again partnering with law enforcement agencies throughout the province to fund enhanced enforcement activities around schools and their designated zones over the month of September.
Now in its ninth year, this annual school safety initiative sees MPI provide funding to assist three police agencies in enhancing their patrols around schools in the mornings and afternoons when pedestrian activity and traffic volumes are heaviest. Participating agencies this year are the RCMP, as well as Winnipeg and Brandon police services.
School zones are designated areas near schools that alert drivers to ensure the safety of children crossing the roadway. In Winnipeg, from the beginning of September to the end of June, speed limits are 30 kilometres per hour in designated school zones, effective Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Outside of Winnipeg, if the signs do not specify a time frame when the speed limit is in effect, then the reduced maximum speed is in effect at all times.
“It’s important that drivers observe the speed limits in these zones and slow down,” said Satvir Jatana, Chief Customer Officer, Manitoba Public Insurance. “Reducing a vehicle’s speed could save a life. Slowing down allows the driver to react quicker and reduces braking distance.
“Whether it’s pedestrian traffic or parents dropping off their children, school zones can be very busy. Slowing down makes everyone safer.”
Drivers are reminded to educate themselves when school zone speed limits are in effect within their respective communities. Enhanced enforcement can take place before, during or after classes in the designated school zone. Drivers caught speeding in a school zone could face a fine of at least $200 and move down two levels on the Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale.
700 speeding offences
During the campaign last year, nearly 700 speeding offense notices were handed out during this yearly program. Over the last five years, more than 5,000 provincial offence notices for various infractions have been issued to drivers, ranging from speeding to use of a hand-held electronic while driving, failure to stop at pedestrian crosswalks and other traffic control devices.
In 2020, participating police agencies monitored more than 100 different school locations in both urban and rural communities. Photo radar speed enforcement in school zones is not a part of this partnership initiative.
Important back-to-school safety tips
Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe for all users. Below are important tips to keep in mind this fall – and all year long.
- Look well ahead to spot school buses and school zone signs; reduce speed in school zones, and wait for children to cross completely before proceeding.
- Stop at least five metres behind a school bus when the upper red lights are flashing, and do not proceed until the "Stop” sign is closed and the red lights stop flashing. Motorists travelling in both directions must stop for the school bus, except if the road is divided by a median.
- Scan under parked cars for the feet of children approaching traffic, and make lane changes early to allow room for children on bicycles, skateboards or roller blades.
- If you are driving your children to school, drop them off in a safe area, away from traffic; use a designated drop-off zone, if the school has one.
- Talk to your children about traffic safety and the importance staying alert to the traffic around them. This includes staying off cell phones and other electronic devices and being smart pedestrians.
- Cross only at intersections whenever possible, preferably at those controlled by patrols, signs or traffic control signs.
- When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to be sure you are seen and cross as quickly as possible to minimize time in the roadway.