Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Personal Injury

School zone safety: education and awareness

By Salvatore Shaw and Joe Gaynor

As summer finally comes to an end, children are heading back to school. It is important that they are able to do so safely. School zones can be chaotic and very busy with parents dropping off and picking up their kids. In addition, young pedestrians are at an increased risk of being injured while commuting as they are unfamiliar with proper traffic safety. As such, parents and motorists may find it helpful to review pertinent school zone tips.

Tips for motorists

  • Reduce your speed in school zones.
  • Be attentive of all school zone signage. Be responsive and ready to stop at any time while driving through a designated school zone.
  • Do not use any devices that may distract you or take your attention away from safely driving.
  • Be patient at school crossings. Wait for children to completely cross before proceeding.
  • Motorists should always follow the directions of the crossing guard. They are legally permitted to stop traffic. Both the children and crossing guard should be safely out of the roadway before proceeding.
  • Do not pass a stopped school bus dropping off or picking up children. When the buses red lights are flashing, traffic from both directions should be stopped to allow children to load onto or off the bus. Once the bus driver has turned off the lights and removed the stop sign, motorists should proceed cautiously. Drivers can be charged if they pass a stopped school bus. The first offence ranges from $400 to $2000 and six demerit points. A subsequent offence ranges from $1000 to $4000, six demerit points, and possibly up to six months of jail time.

Tips for parents and children

  • Pedestrians should walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Parents should help their child find a safe and direct route to school. Try to avoid areas that can be identified as hazardous (busy intersections, train tracks, etc.).
  • Children should always cross at an intersection. If there are signals, make sure they use the pedestrian button, wait for the walk sign to appear, look both ways for potential unsafe drivers, and cross cautiously by walking and not running. If there is not a signal at the intersection, increase your visibility, look both directions, and only cross when the road is clear of all traffic.
  • Follow the directions of the crossing guard.
  • Always where a properly fitted helmet when bicycling. Obey all traffic rules and make sure your child walks their bicycle when crossing a roadway. Avoid riding in the dark, if it is absolutely necessary, make sure your child wears reflective clothing and has lights on their bike. This will decrease the risk of a bicycle accident.

Following the above guidelines is a positive step towards ensuring our children are able to safely commute to and from school. Through education and awareness, this can be accomplished.

For more information on pedestrian crossovers and road safety please click here.

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