School patrollers want drivers to play it safe this summer

For many children, the last day of school is a magical occasion, second only to birthdays and new Harry Potter novels. The pencils are worn down, notebooks recycled, and the taste of summer freedom puts a spring in their step.

But the end of the school year also means the beginning of pedestrian season, as kids hit the parks, pools and playgrounds. As AMA School Safety patrollers hang up their fluorescent vests and stop sign paddles for a well-deserved break, it’s important to be extra cautious around residential areas.

Remember that provincial playground zone speed limits are generally in effect from 8:30 am to an hour after sunset (or 9 pm in Calgary), seven days a week. That means 30 km/h and no passing. Law enforcement will be on the lookout, so take the extra time to play it safe and avoid a speeding ticket ($89-350).

Instead of being cooped up in their classrooms with fractions and pop quizzes during the day, children will be strapping on their roller blades, grabbing their skateboards and hopping on bikes to get some fresh air fun. With more daylight hours, drivers need to be every bit as cautious in the evenings too.

Always come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights – a rolling stop could cost you $287 and 3 demerits. Don’t forget to shoulder check in both directions when turning, and always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks (that’s a potential $776 ticket and 4 demerits).

“Drivers should always be scanning ahead between parked vehicles to watch for kids,” says Flaviu Ilovan, Chief Instructor with AMA Driver Education in Edmonton. “Avoid taking short-cuts through residential areas and be extra cautious anywhere that kids are likely to play. Don't forget to shoulder check - in both directions - before making a left or righ hand turn. Expect the unexpected and avoid any distractions that can affect your ability to react quickly behind the wheel.” 

AMA School Safety Patrol teaches younger children to use the Point, Pause, Proceed approach to crossing the street, with an emphasis on making eye contact with drivers to ensure it’s safe before stepping off the curb. AMA trains patrollers using our comic book and a fun training video, and parents can practice with younger children using games and activities from WayToBe.ca

AMA is proud of the 16,000 patrollers who watch over the crosswalks at more than 500 schools around the province. On the job since 1937, generations of Alberta patrollers have learned to look out for their friends and carry that leadership and responsibility into the community. In all those years there has never been a fatality or serious injury in a patrolled crosswalk, but it takes the cooperation of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists working together to keep our school zones safe.

Visit the AMA blog to find Seven Tips for Safer School Zones or contact the AMA Newsroom at 1-888-960-6397 to set up an interview about summer safety tips for pedestrians and drivers.