Higher traffic volumes expected as in-person learning resumes

After months of virtual learning, school buses will be back on the road across the region on Tuesday morning.

With higher traffic periods anticipated before and after school, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is urging all pedestrians and motorists to stay alert and take extra caution while travelling through school zones.

"Pedestrian safety begins with drivers," said Raymond Chan, manager of government relations at CAA SCO. "When you're behind the wheel, you have the responsibility to look out for everyone else around you, including parents, guardians and children."

While the pandemic reduced congestion around schools, a recent school zone survey conducted on behalf of CAA SCO found many of those previous bad behaviours persist. More than 20 per cent of parents say they witnessed speeding, illegal parking and U-turns or three-point turns.

Of those surveyed, 41 per cent of parents and guardians say that motorists being in a hurry is the primary cause for unsafe driving behaviours within school zones.

Pedestrian behaviours also play a role when it comes to road safety. According to the survey, parents are concerned about pedestrians crossing at undesignated areas; and failing to look both ways when crossing the street.

"CAA is reminding pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to be fully aware of their surroundings by slowing down and putting away all distractions," said Chan. "Whether you are a parent or guardian driving, or a child walking or wheeling to school, everyone plays a role in keeping school zones safe." 

OPP have also released a list of reminders for drivers and pedestrians alike:

• Cyclists under the age of 18 are required by law to wear a properly fitted and fastened bike helmet. Cyclists must obey the same rules of the road that other vehicles do and always keep your eyes and ears open as sometimes other vehicles may not see you.

• Pedestrians should stay on sidewalks and where there are none, they should be walking on the left side of the road as far off onto the shoulder as possible facing traffic. Both pedestrians and cyclists should make use of the crossing guards who will be returning to their posts to help our children get safely across the streets.

Drivers are reminded that the traffic volume will increase, and your commute time may be affected by the bus routes.

Police are also reminding everyone that the registered owner of a vehicle can be charged if that vehicle is identified as one that fails to stop for a school bus when its overhead red signal lights are flashing