Handmade signs with driving safety messages and artwork of stop signs lined the lawn of St. Pius X Elementary School yesterday morning as a reminder for drivers to slow down now that school is back in session.

Teams of Grade 5 and 6 student patrollers stood at crosswalks surrounding the school, enthusiastically helping younger kids safely cross the street, as police patrolled nearby.

“Police have stepped up our visibility at schools to remind parents, pedestrians and students that school is back in session,” said Const. Tim Eggert with EPS Traffic. “School-area enforcement will be increased throughout the year, so drivers should slow down and watch their speed.”

Eggert and EPS Traffic, along with AMA and St. Pius X student patrollers, were out in full force on the first day of school as part of a driving safety awareness campaign.

“The number 1 cause of death for children 12 and under is traffic fatality,” said Elecia Grange, regional co-ordinator for AMA school-safety patrol. “It’s about awareness because children are out so much more now, back to school, and drivers need to be reminded.”

Eleven-year-old Chris Reeves, a first-time school safety patroller and strong believer in student safety, has some advice for drivers.

“Always drive safe and always have your eyes on the road, and be ready to react,” he said, adding that he’s confident there won’t be any traffic accidents while he’s on patrol.

This year, both Edmonton public and Catholic schools are also increasing awareness of the H1N1 flu by putting up posters, distributing information sheets, and encouraging students to wash hands correctly and stay at home if sick.

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