Despite the sunny summer afternoons, the crisp early morning air is a sure sign that the back-to-school season will soon be here. The first day of classes for both major school districts in Edmonton is Tuesday September 5, 2023. This means that traffic volume will suddenly increase after Labour Day, resulting in longer commutes and traffic jams during rush hour.
In addition to increased traffic volume, there will also be more pedestrian activity as students walk, ride, and roll back to school. School buses will be back on the roads. Mass transit routes will run more frequently, so buses pulling over and LRT crossings at intersections will be more common. School zones in particular will become more difficult and riskier to navigate.
With awareness and a little bit of planning, it is possible to avoid these back-to-school traffic pitfalls which increase the chances of getting into an accident OR MORE IMPORTANTLY, hurting or injuring a youngster.
Plan Your Route
Assess your route ahead of time. If you are travelling at peak hours, try to avoid going through school zones. These tend to act as a bottle neck for traffic, between the frequent pedestrian crossings, parents dropping off their children, and busses arriving and departing. Explore alternate routes for your commute. If going through a school zone is unavoidable, familiarize yourself with where it begins and ends. Note the signs present and slow-down in advance of entering.
School Zone Safety
The speed limit in school zones is 30 kilometers per hour. In Edmonton, all school zones are considered playground zones. This means that there are no days off, and the speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour is in effect every day year-round between 7:30 am and 9:00 pm. Be especially alert.
Some school zone safety tips include:
- Avoid distractions
- Be patient and respectful
- Slow down and obey the posted speed limit
- Scan for children in between parked cars
- Obey school crossing guards
- Make eye contact with pedestrians
- Use caution around school buses: never pass a school bus with its red lights flashing
- Don’t park in no-parking zones or too close to crosswalks
While sometimes easier said than done, giving yourself additional time to get where you need to go is one of the best ways to arrive safely. Anticipate delays and plan to leave earlier than you normally would. If you are not distracted and stressed watching the clock, you will be more aware of potential hazards and able to avoid them to help keep yourself and everyone safe this back-to-school season.