Parents, educators, and caregivers play an important role in promoting school zone safety. Drivers and motorists must also follow the law and be particularly conscientious when travelling through these areas. Increase your awareness about school zone safety by reading the following suggestions, and avoid a catastrophic accident.
The general rule for both drivers and pedestrians is stay alert. Drivers approaching school zones and streets or residential neighbourhoods surrounding schools must slow down, watch for children, and proceed with caution. Always obey traffic laws and speed limits, and make complete stops at red lights and stop signs. You never know if a child might dart into the street or crosswalk and take you by surprise.
Driving in and around School Zones
During arrival and dismissal times, the rush of the crowd creates distracting conditions for motorists. For everyone’s safety and to avoid a collision, do the following:
● Comply with school zone speed limits.
● Pay attention to crossing guards and follow their instructions.
● Slow down when approaching loading and unloading zones.
● If you are a parent/caregiver, follow the school’s pick-up and drop-off procedures. Load and unload students only in designated areas.
● Have children exit your vehicle on the side of the street with the sidewalk (never in the middle of the road).
● Observe flashing red and yellow lights.
● Watch for children gathering near bus stops.
● Look for students walking along roads with no sidewalks.
Sharing the Road with School Buses
School bus drivers use flashing lights and side-arm stop signs to alert motorists.
● Yellow lights: The bus is preparing to stop.
● Red lights/stop sign: The bus is loading and unloading children.
Drivers behind the bus (or oncoming) should:
● Slow down to at least 30 kilometres per hour and prepare to stop when yellow hazard lights are flashing.
● Stop at least 5 metres away from a school bus when its red lights are activated and/or its stop arm is extended. Do not pass the bus. You may move again when stop sign is withdrawn and the bus resumes motion.
Share the Road with Bicycles
● Always wear your helmet.
● Ride on the right side of the road.
● Use appropriate hand signals.
● Make complete stops and do not attempt to pass stopped vehicles.
● Ring your bell when passing cars parked on the side of the road to alert drivers to your presence.
● Maintain at least two metres between you and any cyclist.
● When turning right, let the cyclist pass first.
● If exiting a vehicle parked on the side of the road, look in your side mirror for a cyclist approaching. Wait to open your door after the bicycle has passed.
Share the Road with Students Walking to School
● Carefully consider if your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. Consult local/provincial laws and ask the school principal what the designated/recommended ages are for this activity.
● If your child is attending a new school, walk with them until they are ready/old enough to walk safely to school by themselves.
● Reinforce the importance of looking for vehicles (“stop-look-listen”) and looking both ways before crossing the street.
● Encourage children to follow instructions from crossing guards and bus drivers, and only cross at corners and designated crosswalks.
● Look for children walking or bicycling to school. They may act on impulse, ignoring traffic and road hazards. Stay alert, slow down, keep distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you so you have ample brake time. Stop for any pedestrians preparing to cross the street. Remember that cities like Toronto have laws prohibiting any vehicle from passing through a crosswalk or intersection until all pedestrians have finished crossing and stepped onto the sidewalk.
● Parents, minimize the congestion of cars in drop off areas by walking to school with your children. It’s an excellent way to get exercise and spend quality time together.
In the unfortunate event of a collision, reach out to Michelle Linka Law to receive legal support. We are dedicated to working with you to achieve the best possible outcome. Call us at (416) 477-7288 for a free consultation.