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School’s back on Tuesday, Town of Parry Sound and OPP reminding drivers to keep an eye out for kids

School’s back on Tuesday and drivers are reminded keep an eye out for kids and buses. 

Dave Thompson, the Town of Parry Sound’s Director of Development and Protective Services, says with schools back next week, the main thing to remember is to watch out for the kids that are going to and from the schools.  

“They’re excited to get back to school, excited to see their friends. They may not be paying 100 percent attention so we have to get used to buses being on the road. [That means] making sure that motorists obey the red flashing lights on the buses and that they’re always, especially in the urban areas, watching out for kids that are cycling or walking to school,” he says. 

Thompson says drivers do tend to forget what it’s like over the summertime, but they need to make sure that everyone can safely get to school. He says it’s the motorists’ responsibility. 

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West Parry Sound OPP Constable Aaron Jeffrey says drivers may have noticed in the last school year that school buses now have amber flashing lights as well as red lights.  

“That is an indication that the bus will be stopping shortly, and drivers are reminded to ensure that if they’re able to stop when they see an amber light, to come to a stop and then once the light changes to red, they must come to a complete stop behind or in front of the bus,” he says. 

Jeffrey says if drivers pass the bus with red lights flashing, they could be subject to a $490 fine that comes with six demerit points. In addition, he says if a bus driver or a witness report someone passing a school bus with its red lights flashing, and police to follow up but aren’t able to identify the driver at the time, the car’s owner can end up charged for passing the school bus. 

“So, vehicle owners are reminded to ensure that drivers of their vehicle, if it’s a friend or family member, are following the rules as well. Drivers need to be paying close attention to their surroundings, not be distracted and be watching for school busses, especially starting next week,” he says. 

When it comes to reporting someone, Jeffrey says they can call the OPP if they have a vehicle license plate, any driver descriptors, and police can follow up and lay charges as appropriate. At the same time, he says a lot of school bus drivers also have their own dash cameras to record evidence of drivers passing them illegally.  

If all of that is not enough incentive to obey the rules, Jeffrey adds when driving through a school or community safety zone speed fines are doubled. He says it’s a sharp reminder to keep an eye on your speed when children are walking or riding their bikes to school.  

However, Jeffrey says kids should also be looking both ways before they cross the street, ensuring that cars are fully stopped at a crosswalk before they cross. 

“We remind children to cross only at designated places, not to run across the street, not to run after objects that go into the street or if they drop something to safely get across and only retrieve something when it’s safe to do so,” he says. 

Aside from road safety, police also advised parents to be careful with their back-to-school social media posts. 

“We are in a smaller, close-knitt community. However, parents need to be aware there are some people out there, unfortunately, who might have ill intentions,” Jeffrey says. He advises parents to be cognizant that they’re not sharing too much personal information about their child.  

“Such as their full name, perhaps their birthday or age, and the school they’re going to and their teacher. Some of those identifying information might be a little bit too much to be posting online,” he says. 

Jeffrey says the detachment will have officers in school zones on Tuesday to ensure that everyone is safe and that rules are being followed.   

“West Parry Sound OPP would like to wish all kids a happy and safe first day of school and if you see us out there feel free to come up to us and say hello,” he says. 

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