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picture of the stop sign on the side of a school bus

It is Back-To-School Time

School buses are back on the road, kids are walking to and from classes and parents are rushing to drop their kids off at school before hurrying into work.

According to Transport Canada National Collision Database September to November tends to be the worst months for young pedestrians, so there is never a more important time to remind all road users slow down and share the road particularly before and after school hours.

As a Driver

This time of year is often synonymous with more congestion on the road and longer commutes for many drivers. A total of 10,764 children ages 5 to 16 were hit and injured by motor vehicles while they were on foot or bike between 2008 and 2012, which works out to an average of 2,767 children per ear, or approximately eight children per day. Younger children have not yet developed the cognitive and physical skills to cope with the many challenges of traffic and often times are not as aware of the traffic around them, so it is important for drivers to be extra attentive on the road.

  • Be aware of school zone signage and slowdown in all school areas. Standard speed limits for school zones tend to be 30 or 40 km/h in urban areas and 50 km/h in rural areas
  • Stop when directed to do so by a crossing guard and always be aware of and stop at pedestrian cross walks
  • Make sure to stop in both directions and at a safe distance for a stopped school bus with its stop sign out and upper red lights are flashing. *Failing to do so can result in a $400 - $2000 fine and six demerit points for first time offenders. Each following offence could cost you $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months)

As a Pedestrian or Cyclist

It isn't always about the drivers; everyone needs to do their part sharing the road. Most often cyclists have the same obligations to adhere to in school zones that cars do. As of January 1, 2016 it is now the law in Ontario for cyclists to stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard.

  • Always walk on sidewalks when available
  • When waiting for the bus, stay back at least 4 feet from the curb
  • Only cross at marked cross walks or traffic lights, avoid crossing in the middle of the street and around parked parks.
  • All cyclists should walk their bikes across any pedestrian cross walks around school zones
  • Avoid wearing headphones or keep the volume down low so you are aware of the sounds around you.
  • Always wear a helmet and be extra cautious while cycling through high dooring zones, like school drop off zones

As a Parent

  • If you are dropping off your kids off at school, give yourself extra time in the morning so you aren't rushed or distracted
  • Adhere to the laid out drop off zones and rules of that particular school
  • Avoid dropping your kids off across the street from the school, unless there is a crossing guard or pedestrian cross walk for them to use
  • Ensure your children are aware of the rules of the road if they are walking and cycling to school
  • Lay out the best route to school and walk it a few times yourself to ensure you are aware of the potential obstacles

If everyone follows these simple rules, exercises a little extra caution and practices some patience for each other, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be able to safely share the road.