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Lethbridge drivers reminded to slow down as students head back to class

Lethbridge drivers will soon need to follow the same road rules that Calgary drivers do when in school zones, no matter what time of year it is. Lethbridge drivers will soon need to follow the same road rules that Calgary drivers do when in school zones, no matter what time of year it is.

Lethbridge students are back to school starting next week and authorities are reminding drivers about an important change to the traffic rules in city school zones.

Students will begin the new school year on Sept. 5 and police say motorists will need to slow down to 30 km/h in all school zones from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Those guidelines are in place year-round, so they are now the same as playground zones.

"Often, (students) out there after school or in the evening, they leave their home and go to the school playground to play and their parents may not be with them, so just knowing that if they kick a ball out onto the street, those vehicles will be going slower in those communities and paying attention," said Allison Purcell, board chair with the Lethbridge School Division.

In May, city council unanimously approved changing school zones to playground zones, as it aligns with recommendations from the 2021 transportation safety plan.

Purcell says the fixed time will also make it easier for drivers to remember to slow down at all times of the year.

Officials say the change is backed up by research, which suggests harmonized zones reduce the likelihood of pedestrian collisions by 33 per cent overall and 70 per cent between the times posted.

With classes starting on Sept. 5, Purcell says the easiest thing parents and students can do is plan ahead to give themselves time.

"Leaving that 15 to 20 seconds earlier and not being rushed when you're off to whatever destination you're going to, planning ahead and knowing you're going to be going through these new zones and the speed rate is changing, that it's going to be a couple extra seconds for the safety of our community," Purcell added.

In addition to following the speed limit, police also ask drivers to park legally and watch out for school buses.

"In the City of Lethbridge, there is a bylaw prohibiting school buses from using their stop lights and stop arms, but drivers are still urged to use caution when navigating around buses that are stopped," police said in a news release.

More than 15,000 students will return to the classroom next week.

Sgt. Danny Lomness with the LPS traffic response unit is encouraging motorists to be cautious with the increased pedestrian traffic.

"In a lot of cases, we're dealing with younger kids that don't really understand the ramifications of speeding vehicles and what can happen,” Lomness said.

"They're not being cautious because they're not really thinking before they do it and we want the motorists -- the adults, for the most part -- to be that much more responsible."

Lomness says students also have a part to play when getting to school safely.

"Use your sidewalks where there are, use crosswalks or marked crosswalks, don't jaywalk, especially in high-density areas where there is lots of traffic, as there's lots of blind spots for motorists," he said.

"If you are crossing the road, make sure you make eye contact with the motorist so they see you." Top Stories

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