Summer holidays are winding down, and students will soon return to their classrooms and teachers.
Back to school is an exciting time for kids and a busy time for parents, so Langley agencies are reminding people to slow down, avoid distractions, and think about the youngsters using the roads.
"As students and staff return to schools this fall, traffic will increase on neighbouring roadways," said Suzanne Hoffman, Langley School District 35 superintendent. "Student drop-off and pick-up times can be especially busy and drivers are reminded to be watchful of students in crosswalks, follow posted speed limits in school zones, and watch for school buses."
Last year, BC Ambulance Service saw an average increase of nine per cent in motor vehicle crashes in school zones throughout B.C. in September.
"As we shift into our school year routine, it is important for parents, children, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to be very aware of their surroundings," said Paul Juszko, BC Ambulance Service unit chief.
"As paramedics in Langley, we see preventable collisions every day - a child excited to tell their parent about their school day darts across the road without looking, or a cyclist riding with earphones doesn't hear a car turning near them. It is important to look and listen in school zones and on our roads."
As a first lesson of the school year, BC Ambulance Service recommends teaching children and reminding yourself about the ABCDs of safety:
A: Aware of surroundings - notice school zone speed limits, passengers getting out of vehicles, children playing in the area, or pedestrians crossing the road.
B: Bicycles - be sure to follow the rules of the road, as they apply to cyclists too.
C: Caution for cars - ensure drivers see you clearly and you are watching out for them.
D: Distractions - keep them to a minimum. Stash electronics until you arrive at your destination and keep your music low.
"The start of the school year is an exciting time for children and we want to help make sure they get to and from school safely," said Leanne Cassap, local road safety coordinator for ICBC. "We're asking parents to review the rules of the road with their children and go over their daily route to and from school."
Road safety can also be taught in the classroom using fun and interactive activities through free educational materials that ICBC provides to local schools. The materials are unique to each grade level from kindergarten to Grade 10. Visit icbc. com/4teachers.
To ensure that drivers adhere to traffic laws during this crucial time, Langley RCMP and bylaw enforcement officers will be out in force over the next few weeks.
"With school resuming on Tuesday, Langley RCMP remind motorists that school zones will again be monitored and enforced," said Cpl. David Koga of the Langley Detachment's Youth Unit. "Drivers must be cognizant and adhere to the 30 kilometres per hour school zones to ensure the safety of all students. Failure to comply may result in fines up to $253 for speed in a school zone, or higher for excessive speed."
Bylaw enforcement staff are also getting ready for back to school.
"The City of Langley is committed to school zone safety and bylaw officers will be monitoring school zones once classes resume on Sept. 3," said City Bylaw Enforcement officer Nav Dhanoya. "Drivers are reminded not to stop in the street or in a crosswalk while dropping off or picking up their children, both of which are violations of the City of Langley Highway and Traffic Regulation Bylaw."
City and Township staff will be out there trying to keep the community safer.
"We know you are busy and have to get your children to school, but you need to get them there within the guidelines of the law," said Township Bylaw Enforcement officer Simon Jottey. "Laws are there for a reason - to keep you, your children, and other kids safe. If you violate those laws, we will give you a ticket."
Parents and members of the public who see infractions taking place or notice safety issues at schools within the Township are encouraged to call Township Bylaw Enforcement at 604-532-7551.
To further enhance safety around local schools, the Township has completed a number of projects in the past year, including traffic calming at James Hill Elementary and a redesign of Belmont Elementary's parking lot, which will allow for more efficient student drop-off and pickup.
While the Nicomekl River Bridge at 56th Avenue is closed to vehicles until Jan. 31, 2014, access for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained throughout construction, noted Michele Fernie of the Township's Transportation Engineering Department.
"Langley Secondary School students west of the river will continue to have a walking and cycling route to school," she said, adding that intersection improvements being done at 208th Street and 80th Avenue near Willoughby Elementary School are expected to be completed by the end of September.
Langley's newest school, Richard Bulpitt Elementary, will be opening its doors at 20965 77A St. this September, and safety improvements continue to be made on roads in the area.
@ Copyright 2013