By Jordan W. Charness
It’s that time of year again: our bodies still want to believe that it’s summer but our minds tell us that, at least according to the calendar, the summer vacation period is over and it’s time to get back to our serious, everyday lives.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in that rush to get the kids back to school. Of course, the kids bear the brunt of the returning to school issues since it is actually they who are going back, and not their parents. But for many parents, it is now the beginning of the dreaded car pool season which, unfortunately, is also teamed up with the despised got-to-make-the-kids’-lunch season. Add to the mix a huge increase in traffic on our roads after the summer vacation period has ended and throw in all the extra drivers now driving to school, including high school seniors and college students. This volatile and explosive mixture leads to road rage and very often just plain old-fashioned poor driving decisions. The weather doesn’t always help either. One day may be beautiful and sunny and extremely warm while the next may be cold and rainy.
Perhaps because of all this, there is also an increase in the number of traffic tickets given out and minor collisions. It’s a known fact that when people are tired and grumpy they are poor drivers. Tired and grumpy drivers can also be a danger to themselves and to those sharing the road with them.
September is also a season when the police are extra vigilant and set up what we call ‘radar traps’ and what they call ‘traffic law enforcement operations.’ Their goal is to make sure that we drive as safely as possible, particularly in school zone areas.
In many provinces a reduced speed limit is in effect in school zones, but only during school hours and during the school year. The hours of reduced speed limits vary from place to place. In some cases they are in effect 24-7, while in others it may be a specific eight, 10, or 12 hours of the day.
If you are given a ticket for speeding in a school zone you may be surprised to note that you were only doing a few kilometres over the posted speed limit. The police are very unforgiving during this time of year. They really want you to slow down since it will likely save many kids’ lives.
You might wonder why reduced school speed limits are in effect when the kids are safely in their classes. After all they could specify that these reduced speeds would only be in effect during the morning and afternoon school rush hours. The fact of the matter is that kids are not always in their classes. They will be released for recess, lunches, and may even escape class time if a teacher is absent for one reason or another.
Claiming in court that you thought the kids were in class will never be a valid excuse for speeding through a school zone. So get some sleep, don’t be grumpy, and drive safely and carefully around schools during this back-to-school season.