School zones back in effect on the Saanich Peninsula

With the start of school on Tuesday, Sept. 3, police are reminding drivers, parents and students to keep safety at the top of their minds

Crossing guard Colleen Ozawa escorts student Maya Goodsir during school hours last winter.

With the start of school just around the corner (Tuesday, Sept. 3), police are reminding drivers, parents and students to keep safety at the top of their minds.

Corporal Pat Bryant, the school liaison officer for Central Saanich, explained it can be hard after two months of no school zones and longer days to adjust to getting back into the routine.

“We encourage parents to talk about getting back into the routine with their kids before school starts and that includes the basics of getting to and from school safely,” he said.

Bryant touched on the important aspects of back to school safety. The first, for parents who drive their children to and from school, is to make sure they have the proper equipment to secure their children into the vehicles.

Children up to one year of age should be secured in a rear-facing infant seat that’s CSA approved. Children who are one to nine years old, between 20 and 40 pounds and under 4’ 9” should be either secured in a forward facing child seat using harness straps (younger or smaller children) or a booster seat (larger or older children).

“No matter what, if a child is under nine years old they should be secured in a booster seat and we encourage people to use them as long as they can,” Bryant said, adding that children over nine years of age can be secured using a standard lap and shoulder seat belt.

Bryant said he sees most parents using infant restraints properly but not following the booster seat guidelines.

“I’m pleased to see that parents have them during my rounds at the schools in the morning, but more often than not they’re not being used properly,” he said, emphasizing that parents should always consult the instruction manuals that come with the seats to ensure they are installed correctly.

The Central Saanich police will also be placing signboards outside of schools in the area starting Sept. 3 to remind drivers to be aware of school zones and more pedestrian traffic on the roads during the mornings and afternoons.

“We just want drivers to remember that with back to school, there’s an increase in pedestrian traffic and to be mindful of the school zones and crossing guards,” Bryant said.

“Watch for children on the roads and shoulders, watch your speed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and know that we’ll be out enforcing the speed limits.”

Bryant also reminded parents to discuss safety with children who may be walking or riding their bikes to school alone for the first time.

“Make sure you let your kids know the basics of road safety, the importance of always wearing a helmet and that kids shouldn’t stop and talk to people that they don’t know,” he said.

And above all, Bryant noted, make sure you establish a plan in the first weeks of the back to school routine so you’re not rushing.

“Accidents happen when people are in a rush,” he reminded, “so get up a little earlier and plan ahead until it becomes routine.”