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Police remind drivers to be cautious as children return to school

With another school year beginning on Tuesday, police are reminding drivers to watch for children around school buses.

According to police, 800,000 children ride on school buses each day in Ontario.

The law requires drivers to stop for school buses with flashing red lights as they load or unload passengers. Vehicles behind the bus need to stop at least 20 metres away.

Failing to stop for a school bus carries a fine of up to $2,000 and six demerit points for a first offence.

Police are also reminding motorists to be mindful of children who walk to school, and that the speed limit in school zones is 40 km/h.

“Some of them, quite early in the morning, will be heading out toward buses and walking to school,” Peel police Const. Lillian Fitzpatrick told 680News on Monday.

“They may be distracted between the excitement of going back to school and new friends. We can’t always rely that the kids are going to do the right thing so we need to be extra diligent and watch out for them.”

680News traffic reporter Halina Balka said to expect heavier volume on the roads, and advises drivers to give themselves extra time.

“As far as the roads, it’s going to be a little bit busier that what we’ve been used to through the summer months,” Balka said.

Police are also encouraging parents to review and practice safety rules with their children to ensure they are familiar with their route to the bus or to school.

Toronto police, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, launched its annual back-to-school campaign — “Back to School – Back to Basics, Remember Road Safety” — on Tuesday morning at Wilkinson Junior Public School on Donlands Avenue. The two-week campaign ends on Sept. 12.

The safety blitz focuses on drivers who “blatantly and carelessly put children at risk as a result of their poor driving habits,” as well as cyclists and pedestrians who “commit offences in the vicinity of school zones.”

Police were at the school from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. to educate parents and children on back-to-school safety tips and road safety.

Officers will also be targeting aggressive and distracting driving, motorists who make prohibited turns, as well as drivers who don’t adhere to the “no stopping” and “no parking” restrictions in school zones.

Click here for back to school safety tips.