As the end of August quickly approaches, it is hard to believe that kids will already be heading back to school in just a few short weeks. Getting back into the routine is important, not only for students, but for drivers who may have forgotten some of the important laws and safety precautions that have been set to keep our children and communities safe. The following is an important safety reminder for drivers.
School Bus Etiquette
If you live or work in a neighborhood with lots of school bus routes, allow some extra time when travelling for the first few weeks of September while students and bus drivers get used to their new routine. In Ontario, you must stop for a school bus when its upper alternating red lights are flashing, regardless of whether you are behind the bus or approaching it from the front. Keep in mind that you must leave enough room for students to safely cross the street when you are approaching from the front, and you should come to a complete stop 20 meters away if you are approaching the bus from behind. You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing and the stop sign that swings out from the side of the bus folds away. If you fail to comply with these rules, fines can run as high as $2000 and up to six demerit points.
Crossing Guards and Pedestrian Safety
It is easy to forget about intersections and walkways that are usually monitored by a crossing guard over the summer holidays. Whether you agree with a crossing guard’s decision on the road or not, you must obey their instructions at all times. Students are taught to listen to the crossing guard instructions and are often not using their own judgement at the same time. If you do not obey a crossing guard you are putting the safety of students, parents and yourself at risk.
Speed Limit Observation
Although we should always be driving in consideration of the designated speed limit, this is particularly important when school starts back up again. School zones will often have lower speed limits because there is a high chance of children crossing streets or walking on the streets in these areas. In Ontario, most school zones have a speed limit of 40 km/hour. Because school zones are identifies as “Community Safety Zones”, if you are fined for speeding it will cost you twice as much according to Ontario law.
Teaching at Home
If you have children of your own going back to school, teach them the rules of the road that they should be aware of to safely commute to and from school. Teach them about school bus behavior and how to interact with a crossing guard. And make sure they know the proper walking routes with safe sidewalks. These are all easy ways that parents can create a safer commute for everyone.