Back to school safety tips for parents and drivers from the team

Back to school – the time of year when school children, parents, school buses, motorists and crossing guards once again become a common sight on your streets. As the congestion and generally added activity increases, it becomes even more important to focus on safety for everyone on the streets.

To help with the overall transition from summer to the school year and keep our communities safe, read below the safety tips and help keep everyone safe for the coming school year.

Obey School Zone Speeds

Although it’s always important to obey speed limits it’s especially crucial to know exactly where school zones and reduced speed limits fall on your normal commute route as little children traveling to and from school can be easily distracted and can step in harm’s way. So drive slowly, stay alert and keep an eye out for children to avoid accidents.

Obey Crossing Guards

Crossing guards are an added protection measure on intersections close to schools. You must always obey their instructions usually indicated with a hand held sign. Even if you are at a green light, stop if a crossing guard asks you to since there could be a child crossing who you may not be able to see.

Avoid driving into the school parking lot

School lots tend to be very congested which increases the likelihood of accidents. It’s often a good idea to park across the street and then walk with your child on the crosswalk to the school property. Also be aware of designated pick-up and drop-off areas and use those to securely transport children.

Buckle up and don’t be a distracted driver

It’s against the law to be on a handheld device while driving so make sure you put your cell phone away. Also make sure both you and all your passengers are properly buckled up

Expect the unexpected and watch for darting children

Be extra cautions in schools zones and/or areas with sidewalks since students might be walking on the road or getting ready to cross the road. Also make sure you always check properly behind your vehicle before backing up. Little children are easily distracted and could dart in front/behind your vehicle so keep a watch to avoid accidents

Watch for School Buses

School buses make frequent stops so make sure you always maintain a safe distance when driving behind a school bus. It is also illegal to pass a school bus stopped to pick up/drop off students and this applies to traffic coming from behind and from the front unless the road is properly divided with a median. Distance to maintain from a stopped school bus on a roadway with no dividing median:

  • Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan
    Come to a complete stop no less than 5 meters in front of or behind the stopped school bus. Only proceed when the bus signal light is no longer flashing
  • Alberta
    Come to a complete stop no less than 20 meters in front of or behind the stopped school bus. Only proceed when the bus signal light is no longer flashing
  • Ontario, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories
    Coming from behind stop at least 20 meters behind. If coming from the opposite direction stop a safe distance away. Only proceed when the bus signal light is no longer flashing

Do not pass other vehicles in a school zone

It’s an extremely dangerous to pass other vehicles in a school zone and it is prohibited because often when passing you may be going too fast, may have reduced visibility and this increases the chances of hitting a child crossing the street. Also on crosswalks children don’t expect you to be passing and hence won’t be watching for a second car. U-turns, 3 point turns and even driving in reverse in a school zone should be avoided as these actions may be unexpected and can prove dangerous.

Route Planning

If your child is intending to walk to school or take the bus, plan a safe, direct route with the least number of road crossings. Make sure you child knows the route (plan to walk the route with your child a couple of times before school starts) and if a crossing guard is available on the route make sure you child knows to cross with the crossing guard.

Packing your child’s bag

  • Put an emergency contact card and few first aid items in a Ziploc bag and put it in your child's bag pack
  • Label all your child’s items
  • Make sure the teacher is aware of any allergies or dietary restrictions your child may have
  • If your child has a favorite toy, place it in his bag as well ( let the teacher know beforehand). This may help your child settle in.
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