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Too many kids injured in city crashes

September 9, 2016 9:18 A.M.

Eight Kamloops kids are injured in crashes in a typical year; one is too many, says Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone.

Stone, ICBC and Kamloops RCMP offered a reminder to drivers Friday as the first week of school came to a close. It was a busy week of multiple road crashes in the city, one involving five TRU international students.

“Every year, eight children in Kamloops are injured in crashes while walking, cycling or skateboarding, and one is injured in school or playground zones – even one is one too many,” Stone said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority, especially the safety of students this time of year, so we are asking motorists to use extra caution and watch their speed when driving through school zones and at crosswalks.”

Police and Speed Watch volunteers are closely monitoring drivers’ speeds in school zones to help children get a safe start to the school year.

“These tragic accidents can be prevented if drivers, parents and students practice simple safety measures,” said RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller. “Rushing to save a few minutes or a distraction of a few seconds can trigger life-altering or life-ending consequences.”

Drivers are reminded that every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from a minimum of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Districts have the ability to extend those time periods, so it’s important to pay attention to posted times when driving through a marked school zone. Stay alert, slow down, stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing and leave the phone alone to avoid all distractions.

Additional traffic enforcement on Kamloops streets was part of a response to RCMP public consultations held in the spring. A recent road blitz highlighted the continuing habit of distracted driving despite heightened penalties. Thirty drivers were caught. Speeding and excessive speeding have become commonplace along cit arteries with little regard for hazards. Thursday night, for example, two vehicles, a black Mustang and a full-sized pickup truck, were drag racing down Westsyde Road, past a high school, at 7 p.m.

“The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for children and a busy season for parents, but talking to your kids about road safety is always important,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’re encouraging parents to map out their child’s route to school in advance so they can practice together and talk about the rules of the road. Young people should know exactly how to get to and from school safely.”

By more than doubling fines for those who do not obey flashing school bus lights, the province is sending a strong message to drivers to exercise caution and follow the rules of the road. Motorists who fail to stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing are subject to a new fine of $368 plus three penalty points – this penalty is on par with those for distracted driving and excessive speed, which highlights the seriousness of this offence.

“The start of the school year is a great time for parents to go over the rules of the road with their children,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “Make it fun and interactive for them – draw their route to school together or talk about the road signs you pass on your next walk in the area. Even older children need to be reminded about road safety. With more traffic on our roads, drivers should allow more travel time so they aren’t rushing, be extra cautious and watch for children, especially in or around school zones.”

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