(Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS) Julie Cass takes Tyson to his first day of kindergarten at Maple Ridge elementary Tuesday, as kids hit the books for a new school year.

Police watch for school-zone speeders

Back to school, cops ensuring Maple Ridge motorists stop when school buses stop

Ease off the gas pedal.

Drive cautiously, and scan the road and sidewalks ahead.

Pay attention to the school zone signs and the 30 kilometre-an-hour limit – and everyone should get through the first few days of the new school year just fine.

And if you don’t want to adjust your driving, Ridge Meadows police will be out there to help.

Officers from the RCMP’s traffic section were out on the road Tuesday morning targeting school-zone speeders, said Const. Julie Klaussner.

They’re also looking for motorists who may not understand that when a school bus stops on a road, vehicles moving in both directions must stop.

“This is not an unusual traffic rule, but many people are not aware,” Klaussner explained.

“This week, and throughout the month, traffic members are following school buses and ticketing drivers that fail to yield,” she told The News Tuesday, the first day of the new school year.

In addition, police, ICBC and the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge school district are running the Think of Me Campaign throughout September.

September is Distracted Driving and Occupant Restraint month and the Think of Me campaign will see positive tickets issued to remind motorists to leave the phone alone and to slow down in school zones.

“While traffic enforcement is always a priority, during the excitement of back-to-school routines in September, Ridge Meadows officers will be focusing on targeted enforcement in school zones – in relation to speed and distracted driving – as we want to keep the students and citizens of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows safe,” Klaussner said.

If the sight of police cars on the first day of school doesn’t wake up motorists, speed watch volunteers will be out with their speed reader boards later this week.

They’ll also be in Pitt Meadows later this month running speed checks by first showing motorists their speed, followed by a ticket issued farther down the road – if they don’t slow down.

Speed for school zones is 30 km/h, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days, but those hours can be extended.

In Calgary, school zones and playground zones have been amalgamated so that school zones rules are in effect at all times. Playground speed zones are in effect every day.

That has resulted in a 33-per-cent drop in pedestrian collisions, while collision rates have dropped by 75 per cent.

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