The SGI Study Guide for Safe #SchoolZones

School zones are about to get a lot busier; drivers need to slow down and stay alert

School zones could be especially busy this year, as it’s expected more parents will opt for transporting their kids to school, rather than relying on busing.

Some school divisions around the province are asking parents not to drop off their children directly in front of the school, with active transportation (walking, cycling, skateboarding, etc.) being encouraged.

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“Keeping our kids safe is top of mind for everyone right now,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “We expect more traffic – both vehicular and pedestrian -- near school zones so we’re giving drivers a refresher on what to do to help them navigate those bustling school zones safely.”

The SGI Study Guide for Safe #SchoolZones

Slow down to the posted speed limit

The most common school zone offence is speeding. Most school zones have reduced speed limits (you can tell by the big reflective signs) and the penalties for exceeding them are tougher than regular tickets. For example, going 20 km/h over the limit in a school zone will result in a $310 ticket and three demerit points. The faster you’re going, the more the ticket will cost.

More importantly, though, slowing down keeps kids in school zones safe, because it gives drivers more time to react if something unexpected happens. The faster a car is going, the less time a driver has to stop and avoid a collision. If a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist does occur, the chances of serious injury or death increases significantly if the vehicle is travelling at higher speeds.

Watch out for jaywalkers

School zones are full of kids, and kids don’t always pay attention to crossing when and where they are supposed to. This year, they are going to be extra excited to see their friends and teachers in a school setting for the first time since March.

Be careful around school buses that are unloading and loading

Passing motorists are the single biggest threat to children as they enter or leave a school bus. Avoid bus loading zones whenever possible. If you must drive in those areas, obey all signs and signals and watch for kids crossing the street to get to or from their bus.

Slow down as you approach a bus. If a bus is slowing, or is stopped with its amber lights flashing, motorists should reduce their speed and ensure it is safe before proceeding.

If a bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, motorists following or approaching the bus must come to a complete stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the stop arm is pulled in before proceeding. Drivers not obeying school bus safety lights can be issued a $360 ticket, and four demerits.

Obey crossing guards and pedestrian lights

Obeying the crossing guard is not optional. All school crossing guards are legally permitted to stop traffic (with their stop sign) and assist school children crossing the street. Vehicles must come to a complete stop and remain stopped until the children, and the crossing guard, are safely off the road (watch out for stragglers). Failure to do so results in a $230 ticket.

Avoid distractions

During drop-off and pick-up times school zones can become extremely congested and it may be difficult to identify hazards. Put down the coffee or cell phone, place your hands on the wheel and keep your eyes on the road. Need any more motivation to take this lesson to heart? Tickets for distracted driving cost $580 for a first offence, plus four demerit points.

Don’t park in “No Stopping” zones

No, not even for “just a minute.” Keeping these areas free of vehicles is the best way to maintain visibility for other motorists.

Drop your kids off on the same side of the street as the school

This will reduce the chances of being struck by a passing vehicle.

No U-turns

Many communities have by-laws prohibiting U-turns in school zones. In any event, it’s best to avoid it. Drive around the block if you need to come back to where you just were.

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