This week students throughout the province will embark on a new school year. With the return to school comes increased motor vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian traffic. Motorists are reminded to drive with extra caution, especially in school zones.
The following rules, outlined in the Highway Traffic Act, must be observed at all times:
• Drivers must obey the posted speed limit in school zones and yield to pedestrians using a crosswalk.
• Drivers must not pass a school bus while stopped and must obey the visual signals of the bus driver or the bus, such as the activated stop arm and flashing red or amber lights.
• Drivers are required to leave one metre of open space between their vehicle and bicycles or pedestrians where posted speed limits are 60 kilometres per hour or less.
• Motorists are also reminded that driving while using a mobile phone or any other hand-held electronic device is illegal and poses a serious safety risk to all road users.
Public safety is a priority for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Highway Traffic Act includes penalties for illegally passing a school bus and speeding in a school zone. Fines for illegally passing a school bus range from $500 - $1,200, and speeding in a school zone can lead to vehicle impoundment and fines from $400 - $1,800.
All registered school buses in NL undergo rigorous inspections; more than any other vehicle operated on provincial highways. Inspections take place a minimum of three times per year to ensure buses continue to meet all provincial and federal safety standards. The most recent inspections continue to show high pass ratings for bus operators with over 90 per cent of school buses inspected receiving a pass rating, maintaining the industry’s high safety standard.
All these efforts are focused on improving road safety in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly for the many students returning to school this week.
“Driving cautiously and following the rules of the road, particularly in school zones, is imperative to ensuring our students get to and from school safely every day. Avoid distracted driving – texting or consuming beverages while driving is not permitted and puts everyone’s lives in danger," stated Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL.
“Going back to school is a very exciting time of year for students. Back to school also means increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic on our roadways. I ask motorists to please be mindful and pay attention, especially in school zones and to be especially mindful of students getting on and off school buses. We all have a responsibility to obey the law and remain vigilant to protect the safety of our children," stated Tom Osborne, Minister of Education.