A new school year is about to get underway and Altona's police chief is urging everyone to keep safety top of mind as traffic is expected to pick-up on area sidewalks, streets and highways.

Perry Batchelor reminds all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to share the road responsibly, noting the rules of the road apply to anyone that uses it.

"Certainly we want to see helmet use for any cyclist under the age of eighteen, we want to see people stopping at stop signs and using their hand signals," he said.

Earlier this summer the Altona Police Service embarked on a positive re-enforcement campaign in an effort to have more cyclists under 18 years abide by the law and wear a helmet. The agency partnered with the Ice Cream Hut and Sun Valley Co-op to hand out "positive tickets" to some riders in Altona and Plum Coulee who were seen wearing an approved helmet and obeying the rules of the road. These "tickets" could be redeemed for a cool treat at either local business. While Batchelor says the initiative yielded a positive response from the public, he added there is still room for improvement.

"It seems to be a really big deal for high school students to have to wear a helmet. The bottom line is kids, if you're under eighteen and riding a bicycle, the rules apply so wear your helmet," he said. "(Manitoba has) had the helmet law in place now for several years and you actually really stand out when you're riding a bicycle and not wearing a helmet."

Meantime, the police chief says officers also want to see motorists being aware of their surroundings as the hustle and bustle of back-to-school re-ignites, noting accidents happen when drivers roll through stop signs and intersections. "It is important to come to a full and complete stop," said Batchelor.

Additionally, the arrival of September 1st means, for the most part, that school zone speed limits are back in effect after some communities eased the restrictions during the summer break. Batchelor says motorists need to be cognizant of the changes.

"Speeding at any time is expensive. Speeding in a school zone is very expensive," said the police chief, adding getting caught driving 50 km/H in a 30 km/H zone comes with a $312 fine. "Money better in your pockets than in the pockets of the government so slow down going through those zones."

As for pedestrians, Batchelor says to walk on the left-hand side of the road in the opposite direction of traffic where a sidewalk doesn't exist. As we move into the fall months the evenings are becoming shorter and he encourages walkers to wear reflective clothing in order to stand out to other traffic on the road.

The start of the school year also means fleets of school buses will be back on the road and again, Batchelor says it's all about sharing the road responsibly and staying safe.

He reminds motorists that if a school bus is stopped with flashing red lights turned on and a stop sign pulled out, that means cars traveling towards or behind the unit must stop and refrain from pulling out and passing it. Doing so could result in a ticket worth hundreds of dollars and the possibility of demerits.

Additionally, Batchelor reminds students that are dismounting a bus on the street to be aware they could be entering into traffic and to also do their part in staying safe.