Officers will be patrolling school zones on Thursday
© Darrell Cole - Amherst News
Const. Derek Hebert of the Amherst Police Department is reminding motorists of reduced speeds in school zones. With school starting on Thursday, officers will be out in full force making sure motorists follow the rules of the road around the town's four schools.
AMHERST – With school underway for a new year, police are urging motorists to be a little extra careful around school zones.
Classes started for the 2013-14 school year on Thursday with several hundred children making the walk to schools in and around Amherst.
“With the start of a new school year children are excited to be going back to school. We are hoping that motorists will be a little extra vigilant, especially as they enter school zones,” Const. Derek Hebert of the Amherst Police Department said Wednesday. “We want to remind motorists to be aware of the reduced speed in school zones and watch for children crossing the street in crosswalks.”
Speed limits were reduced last year to 30 km/h in school zones, a reduction from 50 km/h. Hebert said it’s important for people to remember the reduced speed is in effect anytime children are present.
“It doesn’t have to be during school,” he said. “It can be after school or in the evening. If children are present, the speed limit is 30 km/h.”
Fines are doubled for speeding in school zones.
Hebert, the department’s school resource officer, said officers are out in full force conducting patrols around the town’s two elementary schools, E.B. Chandler Junior High and Amherst Regional High School.
He is also urging parents to be aware of where they can and cannot park near schools. He said there is usually an issue at Spring Street Academy where there are a lot of students being dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.
He said it’s not as big an issue at the junior high and the high school because both facilities are located off the street. It’s also not as big an issue at West Highlands, although he said motorists and parents need to be aware of no parking zones at that school as well.
“The biggest thing we can ask is for drivers to not only be cautious but also to be patient when dropping off or picking up their child,” he said. “The biggest thing we want to stress is making sure everyone’s first day of school is a safe one.”
Hebert is also reminding motorists to look out for school buses and to never pass a bus that’s stopped with its red lights flashing.
“It has been an issue on Spring Street and on Willow Street, where buses have been stopped with their red lights flashing. There have been cases of cars passing these buses,” Hebert said.
Officers will also be checking on seatbelt use and driver distractions such as using handheld devices while driving.
In the county, Const. Travise Dow of the Cumberland RCMP said the speed limit for school zones on highways is 50 km/h.
“There are going to be a lot of people rushing around trying to get back into the routine. We’d like to ask motorists to just take that extra second to scan the road in front of them to make sure there are no children in front of them,” Dow said. “The last thing we want to see is the first day of classes be one of tragedy. Be extra vigilant on the road because you never known when a child could bolt out in front of you. They’re excited that school’s back in and they may be seeing friends they haven’t seen since June.”