3 safety tips to help protect school zones
It’s that time of year again – back to school! As with each year, back to school means students of all ages begin their daily commute to the classroom. From school buses, to crossing guard intersections, to children playing in the school yard, drivers must be increasingly cautious of their speed in school zones and local communities.
While it may seem intuitive to drive carefully in school zones, this unfortunately isn’t always proven to be the case. A 2016 CAA poll indicated that nearly 50% of all Canadians say they have witnessed a distracted driver in a school zone; 64% say they have witnessed speeding in school zones; and, 30% of drivers have reported witnessing a near miss or collision in a school zone, more than half of which involved a child. Yikes.
In an effort to mitigate pedestrian harm, as of September 1st, 2018 Ontario Provincial Police have instituted higher fines and more demerit points for violations involving pedestrians. The penalty is now a fine of up to $1,000 and four demerit points. These fines are doubled in school safety zones and public areas in communities.
You can do your part to keep school zones safe by following the below school zone safety tips:
1. Know your community school crossings
Not all school crossings have designated school zone signage. A school crossing is described by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation as, “…any pedestrian crossing where a school crossing guard is present and displaying a school crossing stop sign”. Be aware of which crossings in your community are commonly used by children and students, and actively keep an eye out for the presence of students and crossing guards.
2. Obey the speed limitSpeed limits in school zones are significantly slower than the majority of roads. Whereas a typical urban road in Canada has a speed limit of 50km/h, school zones will range between 30-40km/h, depending on your provincial regulation. Drive slowly when approaching a residential area or dedicated school zone, and use extra caution during school and recess hours when children may be walking or playing.
3. Respect the School Bus
It is mandatory for drivers travelling in both directions to stop for a school bus when its upper red lights are flashing, unless a median is present. For cars travelling in the same lane as the school bus, best practice is to leave 20m of distance between your car and the back of the school bus. All traffic should keep a safe distance between their vehicles and the school bus, paying extra attention for children embarking, disembarking and potentially crossing the street.
Together we can all ensure that this school year is collision and injury free. What are your tips for driving safely in a school zone? Tweet us @OnliaCA #OnliaCA