As the Town of Okotoks continues to grow, traffic safety remains a high priority for both motorists and pedestrians traveling along streets throughout the community. It doesn’t matter if you walk, ride a bicycle, or drive, traffic safety affects you and your family every day. You are encouraged to use the following tips to ensure your safety as well as that of others.
Traffic Safety & Enforcement
Our school population is growing rapidly and increased traffic surrounding schools can place children at risk. Please use caution and be alert when driving near buses and in school zones and be reminded of the following rules of the road:
- The speed limit in school zones in Okotoks is 30 kph from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm on school days.
- It is illegal to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle in a school or playground zone.
- Watch for alternating flashing amber lights, which means a school bus is slowing to stop and students will either be getting on or off the bus. (passing a school bus with amber lights flashing is a $465 fine)
- Slow down and stop when a school bus activates its alternately flashing red lights when you are approaching an oncoming bus or if you are following one. The only exception to this rule is when the bus is on the opposite side of a two-way highway that is physically divided by a median. (passing a school bus with red lights flashing is a $543 fine and 6 demerit points)
- You may only proceed once the red lights on the bus have stopped flashing.
- Watch for school buses loading and unloading children, even if the lights aren’t flashing.
Parking on or within 5 meters of a crosswalk, double parking, illegal u-turns, and failing to yield to pedestrians are becoming a significant concern - be on the lookout for children crossing the road!
- Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk can result in a $776 fine.
When warmer weather arrives, drivers will find they are sharing the road with more pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles, which are all vulnerable road users. A greater level of vigilance and care is required by drivers to reduce injury or death that may occur during a collision with a vulnerable road user. Please be courteous and respect the distance required for these road users to travel on the highway safely.
- Pedestrians are considered vulnerable road users. Both pedestrians and motorists are responsible to abide by all signs, signals, and traffic laws to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
- Pedestrians should cross the road at designated crosswalks, make eye contact with motorists before crossing the street and be aware of any challenging road conditions that motorists may be experiencing.
- Motorists should be careful when approaching intersections. Watch for cars slowing in the lane next to yours because other drivers may be yielding to a pedestrian.
- Motorists can practice intersection safety by slowing down and driving defensively. Watch for pedestrians and obey all traffic signs and signals. Be careful in a left-hand turn when crossing the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Leave enough travel time so you do not feel pressured to speed through yellow lights at signalized intersections.
- Simply put, speeding is unsafe and illegal. It is dangerous, can cause devastating accidents and may result in ticketing or a suspended license. For the safety of yourself, your passengers, other motorists and pedestrians, it is important that drivers respect all posted speed limits.
- Roads can become icy and slippery in the winter. It is important to slow down and allow enough distance between your vehicle and those around you. Residents are reminded to give Town crews and equipment plenty of room to work. When encountering snow removal equipment, slow down and follow at a safe distance until there is a safe and legal opportunity to pass.
- Construction and road repair projects are completed throughout the Town during the summer months. This can result in reduced speed limits. Slowing down in these areas will help keep construction workers safe and allow you to properly navigate the construction zone.
- To reduce the temptation to speed, make sure you leave enough travel time and depending on the time of day, consider traffic volumes before leaving the house.
- Even quick trips around town can be dangerous, so it is important that you and your passengers wear seatbelts whenever you’re in the car.
- Seatbelts save lives. Make sure you wear yours properly. A seatbelt should fit with one strap pulled snugly across your waist and another across your chest. In an accident, wearing just one or the other could result in you hitting your head or sliding out and away from your seat, potentially causing strangulation.
- Research your child’s booster seat to learn how to use it properly. It is important to learn how to secure it and how to recognize if your child has outgrown it. Visit an Okotoks Fire Department car seat clinic to ensure your child's car seat is installed properly.
- Although many new drivers are learning to drive at the age of 14, it is important to remember that new drivers may also be adult beginners or recent immigrants to Canada. Some vehicles are marked with stickers that communicate to other drivers that they are new to the road, while most do not. It is therefore important that you do not tailgate any vehicle, allow others enough room to merge, and always signal as a way to communicate your intentions for movement with other motorists on the road.
- New drivers should remember to drive in the right-hand lane when leaving Town limits, allowing others to pass on the left.
4 Reasons Why Driving While Distracted (DWD) May Be the New DUI
Distracted driving is potentially as dangerous as driving drunk and is much more common. If you drive while distracted, you should know these facts:
- You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and 4 times more likely if you talk on a cellphone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving.
- You may be breaking the law. All provinces in Canada, plus the Yukon and Northwest Territories now have bans in place on using cellphones or hand-held electronic devices while driving. Depending on the legislation, penalties can include hefty fines and, in many cases, demerit points.
- A distracted driver may fail to see up to 50% of the available information in the driving environment. You may look but not actually “see” what is happening.
- A study showed that nearly 80% of collisions and 65% of near-collisions involved some form of driver inattention up to three seconds prior to the event.
Driving requires your full attention. Distracted driving can lead to reduced reaction time, impaired judgment and a collision that could injure yourself, your passengers, other motorists, or pedestrians, or may result in death. To reduce distracted driving, give your full attention to the road, plan your route ahead of time, put your phone away and store personal belongings on the floor in the backseat.
Distracted driving legislation restricts drivers from using hand-held phones, texting, emailing and entering information into a GPS unit. Reading and writing, personal grooming and using electronic devices (for example, a laptop, video game or camera) is also prohibited.
- Impaired driving applies to drunk driving, driving while under the influence of drugs and fatigued driving. Impaired driving causes slower reaction times, reduces your ability to concentrate and makes it difficult to stay in your own lane. Impaired drivers also have difficulty maintaining a constant speed, judging distances, making decisions and are easily disoriented.
- Rather than driving impaired, you should take a cab, call a trustworthy friend, have a pre-determined designated driver, or stay at a friend’s house. Decide on a safe way home before leaving the house so you are prepared with cab money or a friend knows in advance that you will need a ride.
- Do not give into peer pressure when offered a ride from someone who is impaired. Decline the ride, suggest splitting a cab or find an alternate way home.
- There are three rail crossings in the Town of Okotoks located along Riverside Drive. One crossing is signaled with cross arms that restrict traffic from crossing in front of an oncoming train. The other two crossings are signaled with no cross arms.
- For your safety, never drive through a cross arm, park or stop on the train tracks, or try to race a train.
Once the camping season begins, many folks dust off their recreational vehicles in preparation for weekend outings. Please remember recreational vehicles can only be parked on the street for a period of 72 hours in preparation for your trip. If you have a trailer, it must be attached to the towing vehicle at all times while parked on the road. Recreational vehicles must leave the area for a minimum of 48 hours after the 72 hour period. Recreational vehicles cannot be stored in a front driveway or at the side of a residence that is adjacent to a street. Help us keep our neighborhoods safe for travel and maintain the aesthetics of your community.
Under section 70(1) it is an offense to place or install window glazing on the windows beside or forward of the driver. Window tint can affect low light visibility but more importantly the plastic glazing impacts the ability of the tempered glass to shatter as per safety design. Automotive glass is meant to shatter into many small pieces but when window glazing is installed it holds all the broken glass together and the sheet of broken glass becomes like a large sheet of miniature knives. Serious injury can result from the glass while attached to the plastic sheet.
Inadequate Splash Protection
This can be broken into two distinct categories; tires extending outside of the fender and inadequate mudguards. Section 64 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulation states that a motor vehicle or trailer must have a part of the body, a fender or mudguard that covers the width of each tire. The mudguard must also extend down to at least the centreline at the rear of each axel.
Colored Lighting to the Front of a Motor Vehicle
Section 6(1) of the Vehicle Equipment Regulation requires that headlamps must be white in color and the bulb must be made of clear untinted glazing. Section 23(2) (c) requires these lamps to emit an amber light plainly visible from at least 250 meters ahead. Section 43 requires daytime running lights to be maintained in good working order and to be maintained to the manufactures specifications which are defined in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada).
Many people have opted to install a light bar on their vehicle. Installing the light bar is not illegal but using it is illegal on a highway as the light bar does not comply with section 42 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulation.
There has been an increase in the number of “beanie” style helmets that do not meet the standards as set out in section 108 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations. Placing a DOT sticker on the helmet does not exempt the helmet as there are a number of standards that must be met to fulfil the standards in the Act. Any illegal helmet can be seized and unless the operator has a second helmet the motorcycle will have to remain where legally parked.
Loud Motor Vehicles
There has been a rise in the number of complaints Regarding loud motor vehicles or excessive noise. Section 61 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations requires that all internal combustion engines must have a muffler that cools and expels exhaust gases form the motor without excessive noise. This restriction is also defined in the Town of Okotoks Traffic Bylaw which prohibits objectionable noise from a motor vehicle. This included loud exhaust systems, unnecessary use of a horn, and squealing tires noise from an improperly secured load, and loud music that can be heard outside a motor vehicles.