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Stay alert in school zones, Mayor and police warn drivers

‘That moment you look down at your phone could be the moment something absolutely tragic happens’

By Mark Squibb / September 8, 2023

The Town of Conception Bay South and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are reminding drivers to slow down as children head back to school this week.

“This is one of the most exciting times of the year for families and young children around our province and indeed here in Conception Bay South,” said Mayor Darrin Bent at a joint press event held in conjunction with the RNC at St. George’s Elementary in Long Pond on Tuesday. “And we want to remind everyone how important safety in our school zones is throughout our entire community.”

Bent highlighted a number of traffic calming measures council has undertaken in recent years, particularly those in and around school zones, such as reducing speed limits in school zones from 50 kilometres an hour to 30 kilometres an hour, a move council approved back in August of 2022.

When asked, Bent said the reduction has been effective in curbing speeding, though he admits that no traffic calming measure short of physically slowing people’s vehicles down for them, is perfect.

 “We have a lot of great residents that I know who go into those zones and they’re doing 30, and everyone around them slows down,” said Bent. “So, when you get one person doing it, everyone around them does it.”

Bent said the Town has spent $27 million since 2018 to improve roads throughout the community and to create sidewalks in school zones. Currently, sidewalks are being installed near Topsail Elementary School.

He added the Town has employed other traffic calming measures in recent years, such as speed humps, digital feedback signs, and other signage, to encourage traffic safety.

With school back in session, he encouraged folks to leave home a little earlier in the mornings to give themselves plenty of time to get where they need to go, and to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially in school zones.

Bent also noted that while he is glad the provincial government has begun to phase out it’s 1.6 kilometre busing rule, which forced children who lived less than 1.6 kilometres (or a mile if you prefer) from school to walk or find an alternative route, many students in CBS will still have to abide by the old rule until at least next year.

Cst. James Cadigan, meanwhile, assured parents that the RNC would have a police presence in school zones throughout its jurisdiction. He also encouraged people to call the police if they have concerns or if they witness dangerous driving firsthand.

“Traffic safety is the responsibility of all of us in the community,” said Cadigan. “And it’s important for students to recognize that there are practises to promote their safety.”

He encouraged students to make eye-contact with drivers that have stopped for them to cross the road. When getting on the bus, he advised students to ensure the bus has come to a complete stop and the doors have been opened before approaching it.

He also asked that drivers be aware of their surroundings and not drive distracted.

“That moment you look down at your phone could be the moment something absolutely tragic happens,” said Cadigan. “And that time you will never get back.”

CBS is home to nine schools, five of which are elementary schools, and roughly 4,500 students.

The Town of Conception Bay South and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary issued a joint message Tuesday morning on back-to-school safety from the parking lot of St. George’s Elementary, which fronts onto the busy Route 60 highway. In the back, from left to right, are CBS Mayor Darrin Bent, councillor Christine Butler, Municipal Enforcement officer Jill Saunders, RNC Constable George Carter, and Municipal Enforcement manager Ed Jarvis. At the podium is Cst. James Cadigan. Mark Squibb photo.

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