WITH pupils already beginning to return to school after the summer holidays, Ballarat police are reminding drivers of the need to slow down around school zones.
Ballarat Highway Patrol's Acting Senior Sergeant Stuart Gale said that with teachers returning earlier in the week and primary and secondary school pupils returning during the next couple of days, the community must be aware of the need to slow down to the school zone speed limit during drop off and pick up times.
"It is important for drivers to be vigilant in school zones but also right across the whole area," he said.
"There will be new kids starting school who might not know where the crossings are or others who may be excited and quickly dart out on to the road."
Acting Sergeant Jeremy Hancock urged the community to be mindful of children walking and riding bikes, especially when backing out of driveways or travelling down side streets.
He said slowing down by a couple of kilometres per hour could make a huge difference and could dramatically reduce the risk of a child being killed if hit by a car.
"Now that school is back after the summer holidays, police will be out and about focusing on drivers going through school zones in the mornings and afternoons," he said.
"We will have a particular focus on speed and distraction offences such as mobile phones."
Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC, Jaala Pulford, also urged drivers to take extra care and to slow down to the speed limit in school zones, to be extra vigilant during drop off and pick up times, to obey parking restrictions, keep clear of school crossings and ensure children are fitted with age appropriate car restraints.
"The school pick-up and drop-off are naturally full of distractions and we know taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, results in slower reaction times so we're asking drivers to pay extra attention," Ms Pulford said.
Roads with a speed limit of less than 80km/h drop to 40 km/h between 8am and 9.30am in the morning and from 2.30pm and 4pm in the afternoon each weekday, while roads with a normal speed limit of above 80 km/h drop to 60km/h during those times.
The school speed zone limits will be in place from Tuesday, January 28 until Friday, March 27 during term one.
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