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School Bus Safety Week

Safety School Traffic Safety

Happy School Bus Safety Week, everyone!

Schools throughout Alberta are celebrating School Bus Safety Week October 16 – 20. As you may have noticed, there have been many bus inspections at Sherwood Park schools in the last couple of weeks. Don’t be alarmed – this doesn’t mean something is wrong. Alberta’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch does bus inspections each year to ensure school buses are safe to transport children to and from school - not just for School Bus Safety Week, but year round!

Image courtesy of Alberta Justice & Solicitor General, 2016

Image courtesy of Alberta Justice & Solicitor General, 2016

When officers inspect buses they are checking many different safety essentials, including steering, brakes, seats, exhaust systems, emergency exits, and tires. If a part is found that is not working correctly, officers will inform the bus owner and work with them to get the part fixed.

Ensuring school buses are safe to transport students is just the first step in creating a safe ride to school. Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Don’t forget the Danger Zone! Students should be taking 5 BIG steps when exiting the bus to make sure they clear the Danger Zone – the zone where it is most difficult for bus drivers to see students.
  • Sitting safely on the bus means facing forward and sitting with your back flat to the back of the seat.
  • Large items, including instruments or sports bags, must be safely secured under the seat and out of the aisle.
  • For school districts that have Student Tracking technology, scanning bus passes allows for all students to be safe and accounted for. Students should be scanning both on and off the bus every time!

A safe bus ride is only possible with the help of bus operators, students, parents, and other drivers on the road. Whichever category you fall into, please ensure you are doing your part to keep Strathcona County students safe!


Safety School Traffic Safety

Be kind. It's such a simple phrase, but really, it should be the basis for everything in life! Shell Canada approached us about a simple initiative aimed at fuelling kindness in our community. A team of dedicated volunteers woke up extra early this morning; not because they were excited to send their kids off to their first day of school, but because they wanted students, teachers, staff and parents showing up to the first day to see words of wisdom, welcome, inspiration: words of kindness.

These volunteers from Shell Canada descended on elementary schools in Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and Bruderheim to put chalk to pavement and brighten up sidewalks, as well as people's days.

Twitter is normally full of back to school posts on the first day of school, but these are dwarfed by the posts from schools, school divisions, teachers, parents and Shell filled with photos of this wonderful artwork. I've seen tons of posts on Facebook too, including in Moms' groups where the initiative has been received with overwhelming praise.

I stopped by Westboro this morning and I don't think there was a square foot of sidewalk that wasn't filled with brightly coloured pictures and words of wisdom. Parents and kids alike were full of smiles as they read the messages. I got to meet Matt and Stephen who were responsible for the tons of artwork there.


The Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership is an incredible example of collaboration. We are better than simply the sum of the individual parts; by working together, we can accomplish so much more.  We were so excited to work with Shell Canada on this initiative to fill our community with kindness. We are truly blessed to partner with such amazing organizations; both within our partnership and outside too.

Thank you again Shell Canada for #FuelingKindness in our community! Check out some of the other amazing photos of support and inspiration.

Check out this link to see the posts on Twitter (or search #FuellingKindness).

While this initiative was by no means simple (it took tons of people hours of work to pull it off), being kind is! What can you do today to help fuel kindness?

Update on All Day School Zones

Safety School Traffic Safety

Currently, Strathcona County follows the provincial standard for school zone effective times which are:
•    8:00 – 9:30 am
•    11:30 am – 1:30 pm
•    3:00 – 4:30 pm

Did you know …

•    that most schools have early dismissal the first Wednesday of the month and students are dismissed before 3:00 pm and therefore vehicles have no obligation to drive 30 km/h during that time?  
•    that some schools start before 8:00 am every day or dismiss before 3:00 pm every day and therefore vehicles have no obligation to drive 30 km/h at those times?
•    that many schools have before or after school activities where students are arriving before 8:00 am or leaving after 4:30 pm and vehicles have no obligation to drive 30 km/h?
•    Edmonton, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan and Beaumont have moved to all day school zones.

We know that many studies show speed as the number one risk factor for pedestrian injury and that impacts above 30 km/h increase the likelihood of severe injury or death.
As such, the Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership supports the implementation of all day school zones in our community. Specifically, we recommend a bylaw where speeds in all school zones are limited to 30 km/h from 7:30 am – 4:30 pm.



Distracted Walking??

Safety School Traffic Safety

We have all heard about distracted driving, but recently, distracted walking has been coming up more often. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded a bit crazy, but while dropping my children off at school one day, I realized what a problem it (is) and can be; especially for teens. Most teens today have phones, and these phones capture their attention, even when they are walking. How many times have you seen someone (especially a teen) walking with their head down looking at their phone?

Statistics from Safe Kids Worldwide show that in the past three years, distracted walking has increased from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 for high school students and from 1 in 8 to 1 in 6 for middle school students.

An obsrvational research study, titled "Alarming Dangers in School Zones" watched middle school and high school students as they crossed the street and noted that almost 80% did so in an unsafe manner. Wearing headphones and texting were two large culprits.

Add in drivers who are texting or using their phones, who double park or drop off unsafely and the possibility for disaster increases dramatically.

We need to make sure that we remain focused around schools. We need to be even more diligent because the teens might not be paying enough attention. School might not be in session right now, but teens are still likely to be walking distracted, so slow down and keep an extra careful eye out for them. They might not notice you.

For more information, read the full article.


Little Elk Island Adventurers

Safety School Traffic Safety

Do you have a child who is new to riding the bus in Elk Island Public Schools? Are they nervous? Would you and your child like to learn a bit more?

Elk Island Public Schools offers a program called Little Elk Island Adventure for first time riders and their parents. You will learn:

  • How to be safe when around the bus
  • What the Danger Zone is and where it is located
  • How to board the bus and scan your bus pass
  • How to sit properly in the bus
  • EIPS' Code of Conduct

There is also the opportunity for students and their parents to take a short ride on the bus. For Sherwood Park riders, there will be the opportunity to learn more about the SAL transfer site and the Kindergarten Noon transfer.

There are several sessions planned for 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm or 6:30 pm at EIPS Central Office
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm at Fort Christian/Fort Elementary
Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm or 6:30 pm at EIPS Central Office
Friday, September 1, 2017 at 10:30 am at EIPS Central Office

To register, click here

For more information, call 780-417-8141 or email


How Can We Help?

Safety School Traffic Safety

You might be lying awake wondering,

What is the Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership and what can they do for me?

The answer, we hope, is lots! We are a partnership made up of various parties affected by school traffic safety within Strathcona County (read more about us here).

If you are outside of Strathcona County, Elk Island Public Schools or Elk Island Catholic Schools, then our blog, tweets, best practices and resources can be a source of information for you.

If you are a school within Strathcona County, then we are working through the creation of a Traffic Safety Management Plan. Representatives from Strathcona County are working with Student Transportation, Principals, School Council Chairs and Enforcement to look at each school individually and examine traffic flow, parking challenges and signage and to create a plan. Our goal over the next couple of years is to have one for each school in Strathcona County. We are housing these plans on our website so they are easily accessible.  If your school isn't listed, then don't worry, we are still coming. If you are a school administrator, then you also have access to the signage maps so you know what signs should be where. If you think a sign around your school has gone missing (incredibly, they do!!), then contact us and we will send someone to take a look. This page is password protected, and the password should have been shared with you, but if not, or if you forgot it, contact us and we will help. We also have a list of the current Peace Officers assigned to each school so you can contact them with traffic safety concerns too. This is also password protected with the same password as the signage maps.

If you are a school within Elk Island Public Schools or Elk Island Catholic Schools, we have awesome crosswalk signs for purchase. We tested out several options, and felt these were light and portable (at one elementary school, the grade five and six students are responsible for putting them out and bringing them in which they do with no issues). They are also highly visible. We did a bulk purchase from the US so it would be cheaper and easier for schools.

We are working on other ways to support our goal of increasing traffic safety around our schools and for our students and children. If you have ideas, please contact us!


School Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Safety School Traffic Safety

May 1st marks School Bus Driver Appreciation Day and a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the challenging job our bus drivers have and the incredible job that they do.

Picture this:

You are driving down the road to dance or piano or even school. You've got 2 or 3 kids in the back and they're noisy and maybe bugging each other. You are trying to keep them under control and pay attention to the road

We've all experienced the frustration with our kids in the car. Now imagine being responsible for 25 or 30 times the amount of kids, while driving a vehicle many times bigger. Add to that keeping track of which kids are getting on and off the bus and you can imagine some of the challenges bus drivers experience daily.

We are so thankful for them! Transporting students by bus is an incredibly safe option and it helps alleviate traffic congestion at the school too. Imagine if those hundreds of students who arrive at the school by bus all arrived one or two at a time by car. Especially at our older schools which were not built to accommodate huge volumes of traffic.

So, let's celebrate those selfless men and women who pick up our kids every day and deliver them safely to school and then back home again. If your child rides the bus, write them a nice card and if your child doesn't ride the bus, or you don't have children, then give them a wave as you drive by.

If you missed it today, feel free to make it School Bus Driver Appreciation Week and celebrate your driver in the coming days.

Looking for some other ideas? Here some we found when we searched:

Found on Pinterest, but unfortunately, no link

Found on Pinterest, but unfortunately, no link

When is my Child Old Enough to Walk to School Alone?

Safety School Traffic Safety

There is no quick answer to deciding when your child is ready to walk to school alone.

According to Parachute Canada, in order to cross a street independently and safely, children need three important skills that are typically not acquired until between 9 and 11 years of age:

  • The ability to determine and use a safe crossing pathway
  • The capability to realistically assess a vehicle’s speed
  • The cognitive means to judge safe gaps in traffic

Children under 11 have vision and hearing that is not yet fully developed.  School-aged children are also developmentally egocentric and see themselves as the center of all things.  As a result, they find it hard to understand that a driver would not be aware of them.

Parents can talk with children about pedestrian safety as soon as they start walking with them, and continue to do so at least until the early teenage years.

Discussions and demonstrations addressing safe crossing behaviours, in a variety of situations, will enable children to make more independent – and correct – decisions about road crossings and safe pedestrian travel in general.  Guided walking will also help parents to assess their child’s readiness to begin to short journeys on their own and build towards independence.

More information is available in these great resources:

Lights, Safety, Be Seen ...

Safety School Traffic Safety

Winter in Strathcona County can be dark. A lack of streetlights or sidewalks combined with early school starts mean most rural students meet their morning bus in the dark during much of the winter, making them difficult for motorists to see. The Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership was lucky enough to partner with Shell Canada to purchase pedestrian safety lights for the rural bus students. These safety lights can be easily attached to a backpack and will flash when turned on.

I applied for the grant on behalf of the partnership through Strathcona County, because darkness is one of the biggest risk factors for a pedestrian.
— Debbie Rawson, Traffic Safety Liaison with Strathcona County via The Sherwood Park News

Through the generous donation from Shell Canada, we were able to purchase enough flashing lights for all the rural students.

Anything we can do to help keep our students safer, visibility for other motorists is a key factor, and even visibility for when the bus driver is pulling up to their stop and if they can see the kids even more clearly, it is a benefit.
— Christine Hogan, Safety & Compliance Officer with Elk Island Public Schools via The Sherwood Park News

While the flashing lights were to bring awareness and attention to our rural students, we can all play a part in pedestrian safety, whether in a rural or urban setting:

  • Look out for one another. Slow down and watch for pedestrians when driving or cycling, particularly in areas where there are no sidewalks or streetlights.
  • Help drivers see you. When walking on the road, always walk against traffic. Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when walking in light or poor weather conditions.

The Be Seen program has been a great example of true partnership. Shell Canada provided the funds, Elk Island Public Schools, Elk Island Catholic Schools, New Horizons School and Ecole Claudette-et-Denis-Tardif distributed them to their rural bus students and several of our elected officials Tweeted about it to help raise awareness, as well as, to provide extra thanks to Shell Canada. Messaging and a news release was provided to schools to include in their newsletters and on their websites. The Sherwood Park News published an article on February 3, 2017 and Mix 107 Radio provided coverage on February 7 & 8 as well.

Winter Driving Tips

Safety School Traffic Safety

It's warm out there right now (well, relatively warm; this is Alberta in February after all), but winter is not likely over so it's good to review some winter driving tips.

The Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership wants to remind motorists to travel with increased caution around our school sites and near bus stop locations when the roads are icy and snow-covered. Some key things to keep in mind:

  • Slow down and give yourself extra travel time
  • Increase your following distance and give yourself lots of room to brake safely
  • Defrost your windows and clear the snow and ice off of your vehicle to increase visibility
  • Children are unpredictable and may be playing on ice or snow piles and not paying attention to traffic.

For more information, visit the Canada Safety Council.

Thank you to Home Hardware

Safety School Traffic Safety

In August, we sent out a request to local businesses to share our Back to School Traffic Safety Messages and we wanted to thank the Sherwood Park Home Hardware Store for following up with us that they had done that.

We are very fortunate to work in an incredible community with neighbours who share our vision. Thanks again, Home Hardware!

Traffic Safety Pledge & 5 Metre Challenge: A Pilot

Safety School Traffic Safety

We know that traffic safety is a partnership between students, staff and parents and we wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between home and school, while bringing awareness. One of our committee members is from Westboro Elementary. Built in the 1970s when kids could all walk to school because they lived in the local community. Westboro currently serves the immediate subdivision of Westboro, but also the neighbouring ones of Village on the Lake and Broadmoor Estates, as well as the greater Sherwood Park and even Strathcona County areas for the Logos program. As a result, many kids are dropped off and picked up, as walking isn't feasible, especially in the winter. Unfortunately, the school does not have drop off loops like newer schools. It can get very congested at drop off and pick up and parking is at a premium. Another big challenge at Westboro, is parking within 5 metres of the crosswalk. We have worked with them for the past couple of years on this issue and have re-signed some areas and painted lines by the one crosswalk to indicate no parking, however, they are still experiencing an issue by the one crosswalk.

Recognizing that awareness and education can help significantly, we decided to run a pilot project at Westboro.

We printed a letter home as well as some activity ideas for teachers to do with their classes.

Traffic Safety Pledge/5 Metre Challenge
Activity Ideas

We sent home a School Traffic Safety Pledge for parents to read and sign and a 5-metre Challenge for students to do with their parents. They were to find or draw a picture, or to describe in words, what 5 metres would look like. If both were returned, they were entered into a draw for a family pass to Millennium Place (our local recreation centre) which was donated by the school. We also included a Christmas Concert package (1 reserved parking spot and 2 front row seats). The prize itself cost us nothing, but yet, was very desired and so we had a great response! Parents talked about it on the Parent Facebook Group and we received around 100 entries!

The imagination was incredible!

Anthony, Avalyne, Dahlia, Dehiah, Elias, Gavin, Isabel, Kayla, Kevin, Lia/Jacob, Lyndon (in order)

Some other great descriptions of 5 metres:

  • 5 Big Daddy Steps, 7.5 Big Grade 3 Steps, 1/2 way across a 2 way street (Hadleigh)
  • My little brother is 1 metre tall, so 5 of my little brothers (Dezlinee)
  • Our boat (Miel)
  • A Minivan (Kaleb)
  • 166.7 Lego Blocks (Daniel)
  • 5 of my Giant Steps or 33 Beanie Boos end to end (Aiden)
  • 13 of my Minion backpacks in a row or 10 of my biggest steps (Avery)
  • 6.5 big steps or 71 standing Beanie Boos (Olivia)
  • 5000 ladybugs (Nathalie)
  • It took me 23 steps to make 5 metres (Adelynn)
  • 5 double arm lengths; when we measured it was longer than our couch (Sylvie/Hannah)

A lot of these are subjective - it depends on how long their stride is, or how big their boat is, but the purpose was to raise awareness and to get people talking about it which definitely happened!






Way to Be!

Safety School Traffic Safety

Last year, we had a representative from the Way to Be! program present to our group. The Alberta Traffic Safety Fund provided a grant to develop this program which involved the following organizations:

  • Safe & Caring Schools & Communities
  • AMA School Safety Patrol
  • SHAPE (Safe, Healthy, Active People Everywhere)
  • Office of Traffic Safety (Province of Alberta)
  • Alberta School Councils Association
  • City of Edmonton Transportation Services
  • RCMP
  • James Gibbons School, Edmonton
  • St. Pius X School, Edmonton
  • Johnny Bright School, Edmonton

The Way to Be! program focuses on 10 common traffic troubles:

  • Unsafe Role Modeling
  • No Seatbelts
  • Parking Lot
  • Congestion
  • Walking Between Buses
  • Visibility
  • Unsafe Drop Off
  • Idling
  • Jaywalking
  • Distracted Driving
  • Parking by the Crosswalk
  • Disrespectful Behaviour

Developed by Alberta teachers and linked to the Alberta curriculum, there are lesson plans, resources and a Facilitator Guide. It has checklists and surveys and extends beyond the school so that students can involve their parents as well.

It focuses on 6 Way to Be! messages

  • Be Smart
  • Be Safe
  • Be Seen
  • Be Sure
  • Be An Example
  • Be Respectful

For more information, visit their site!


Just Because You're in a Hurry ...

Safety School Traffic Safety

We did an awareness campaign for back to school in the fall of 2015. Using the theme, Just Because You're in a Hurry ... we focused on 3 main driver issues:

  • Parking within 5 meters of a crosswalk
  • U-turns
  • Distracted driving

We created graphics for Facebook and Twitter and shared them out.

You can access and download a copy of each of these through our resource toolkit. We used the following hashtags, however, use whatever is appropriate for your area: #shpk #strathco @EIPS @EICSTalks @ABTransComm @StrathcoCounty

5m from Crosswalk

Facebook: Traffic safety tip: Did you know it’s against the law to park within five metres of a crosswalk? Do your part to keep our school zones safe. Learn more traffic safety tips by visiting


Facebook: Traffic safety tip No.2: It’s never OK to make a U-turn in school zones—it’s hard to see small children and often confusing for student. Do your part to keep our school zones safe. Learn more traffic safety tips by visiting

Twitter: U-turning near a school? Just because is no excuse.


Distracted driving

Facebook: Traffic safety tip No. 3: Don’t be the one saying “I wish I never…” Remember to leave your phone alone while driving. Do your part to keep our school zones safe. Learn more traffic safety tips by visiting

Twitter: There's no excuse. Leave the phone alone!

Back to School Reminders

Safety School Traffic Safety

It's Labour Day which has traditionally signaled Back to School time. While some school divisions have already started, it's safe to say that as of tomorrow, kids everywhere will be back at school. 

Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety has some great tips to remember!

Drivers play a key role in back-to-school safety. Be alert and extra cautious in and around school zones and playgrounds as well as near school buses.

Young students should remember these safety tips:

  • If you can't see the driver, the driver can't see you either.
  • Be alert at intersections and always look for danger when crossing the street.
  • Arrive early at your bus stop and stand back on the sidewalk until the bus stops.
  • If you walk to school, learn and practice the safety rules for pedestrians. Cross at cross walks; obey all traffic signs, traffic lights and safety patrol instructions.

Back to school facts

  • Nearly 50 per cent of the drivers involved in collisions with school buses committed an error. The most common error was following too closely.
  • On average each year, approximately 238 children under 15 are killed or injured as pedestrians or cyclists (2010-2014).
  • School buses in Alberta travel an estimated 450,000 kilometers a day - that’s more than 10 times around the earth!
  • The penalty for failing to stop for a school bus with its alternating flashing red lights activated is $543 and six demerit points.
  • 70 per cent of casualty collisions and nearly 90 per cent of property damage collisions involving a school bus occurred in urban areas.

Yield to pedestrians. Remember to yield to children/parents in crosswalks. When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk they have the right-of-way.

Do not drive while distracted. Always be alert of your surroundings.

Speed limits in school zones and playground zones: The speed limit in a school zone is 30 kilometer’s per hour unless otherwise posted. School zone times are in effect from 8am to 9:30am – 11:30am to 1:30pm – and 3 to 4:30pm; unless otherwise posted. Strathcona County follows these times.

The speed limit in a playground zone is 30 kilometers per hour unless otherwise posted.


Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety is a key partner of Strathcona County School Traffic Safety Partnership.


Bus Flashing Lights In Urban Areas

Safety School Traffic Safety

We have all seen the school bus on the rural road with the flashing lights and stop arm extended. It's common and we likely don't think anything of it. On first reflection, the idea of school buses using the flashing lights and stop arm in an urban area would seems to increase safety too. If it works in the rural areas, why not the urban? Our school transportation experts disagree, though, and helped us understand how this practice can actually impede safety in an urban area.

There are many differences between our urban and rural roads and we need to approach safety with these differences in mind. Rural roads generally have higher speed limits, no sidewalks or crosswalks and a lack of stop signs or other traffic control devices. Buses in rural areas drop kids off across from their driveway. In urban areas, children are dropped off in groups within easy walking distance to intersections and crosswalks. We teach our children to "Point, Pause & Proceed" when they want to cross a road, and that they ought to do so at an intersection or a crosswalk. If a bus uses the flashing lights, however, the children are to cross right in front of the bus, rather than to walk to the nearest intersection or crosswalk.

There is an overall concern with driver compliance to stopping for the buses as well. Children can rely on the expectation that these vehicles will stop, however, they can not see past the bus. In an urban setting, there are frequent opportunities to cross at a marked crosswalk or intersection (unlike in the rural areas). Jurisdictions who permit the flashing light usage have identified compliance as an issue.

Alberta winters also compound the safety issue. Where intersections are cleared of snow and windrows, not all jurisdictions clear these between intersections, so if a child needs to cross mid-block, it might require climbing over windrows either along the side or the middle of the road.

Originally, the practice of school buses using the flashing lights and stop arms to stop traffic was intended only for rural roads. In 1986, the Alberta government allowed municipalities to make the decision to allow this practice, however the then Transportation Minister, Alan Adair, acknowledged, "Where well marked intersections and roadways are present, it is actually safer to use those markings and devices than use the flashing bus lights."

As a group, we believe, based on best practices in the industry, as well as, research, that it is safer for municipalities to ban the use of the flashing lights within their urban boundaries.

For more information, see our Flashing Lights in Urban Areas page under the Best Practices section.

Back to School Messaging: Another Kind of Partnership

Safety School Traffic Safety

We are excited to work with local businesses through the Sherwood Park Chamber of Commerce to increase awareness of key back to school messages. We have reached out to local businesses to ask them to share general back to school traffic safety messages with our community and commuters.

We are hoping to provide reminders to local drivers to be watchful of pedestrians - both in school zones and in residential neighbourhoods - as our students and staff head back to school.

Possible messages include:

It’s Back to School season
Watch for kids in the neighbourhood

Back to School
Please drive with care

Thank you for slowing down
It’s Back to School time

We've asked participating businesses to send us a photo so we can share some on our website. We will also be Tweeting some out from our partners' Twitter accounts.

If you see any back to school messages on local signs, please share them with us too. Click the Contact us button to share them!