School’s out for summer – so drivers better slow down – Edmonton

EDMONTON – No more pencils. No more books. Tens of thousands of Edmonton students are now on summer break. That means drivers are being cautioned to pay more attention, especially near playgrounds, parks and residential areas.

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“These little guys, they don’t think when they are playing,” said Cst. Tedd Benesch, a traffic enforcement officer with the Edmonton Police Service. “The ball goes out on the road – they’re going after it. If mom calls them across the street – they don’t think to look both ways before they go. It’s up to us to be more vigilant as parents and drivers, and watch for them.”

Police say pedestrian and cyclist injury collisions go up in the summer.

“Nine out of the 23 traffic fatalities in Edmonton last year were vulnerable road users,” said Gerry Shimko, executive director with the City of Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety.

Speeding and careless driving in neighbourhoods is a top concern for Edmontonians, according to an EPS survey.  “We’ve ticketed someone doing 135 km/h in a park in a 50 zone,  and another doing 87 km/h the other day, so they’re not getting the message,” Cst. Benesch said.

Speed isn’t the only infraction officers are watching for. Distracted driving tickets are handed out on a regular basis.

“It’s amazing how many we write in a day, and we’re not even touching how many are actually out there,” said Cst. Benesch.

“We need to get that message out there:  that split-second that you look down is all it could take. It could mean the difference between being able to stop and striking somebody because you didn’t see them.”

EPS Tips for Drivers:

Watch out for children – If children are playing near or on the street, please use caution, reduce speed, and be prepared to stop quickly. Be alert while driving in residential areas, near park spaces or sports fields.Lookout for pedestrians – Use caution when approaching and traveling through intersections, and don’t count on pedestrians to obey traffic signals or use crosswalks.  Always double check before turning or reversing.  Be careful when driving near people wearing earphones or older adults who may not see or hear a  vehicle approaching.Use caution around bicyclists – Children and inexperienced riders can be unpredictable while riding, so give them adequate space in traffic.  When passing cyclists, slow down, give them space, and do a shoulder check to ensure that it is safe to move back into the lane.Obey the speed limit and other posted signs – Drive the speed limit and for the road conditions.  As a vehicle’s speed increases, so does the distance needed to stop.Be a role model – Teach your children to follow the rules of the road, such as using a crosswalk safely at an intersection, and only crossing after making eye contact with drivers.  Set a good example by driving responsibly, minimizing distractions from electronic devices or phones, and not drinking and driving.

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