Back To School Tips for Drivers

With back to school just around the corner, drivers should be on high alert that many small children will be commuting during this busy time of year. The safety of children is not only the responsibility of parents, but of the whole community in which they must travel. The Canada Safety Council has provided the following 12 tips to keep children safe.

  1. Reduce your speed. Be more careful in residential areas where children are present. Respect speed limits in school zones and playground zones.
  2. Stop for school buses displaying the flashing red lights and the extended stop arm. In most cases, traffic driving in both directions must stop for school buses. Do not continue on until the flashing lights stop.
  3. Obey crossing guards.
  4. Never overtake other vehicles within a school zone or within a half block of any crosswalk.
  5. Avoid U-turns and three-point turns in school zones. Children can have a difficult time predicting these types of vehicle manoeuvers.
  6. Give cyclists a wide berth (a minimum clearance of one meter is the rule in some jurisdictions).
  7. Shoulder check before opening your vehicle door.
  8. Leave extra time to reach your destination.
  9. If you observe reckless driving or suspect a driver is impaired, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, and report the incident to police by calling 911.
  10. Choose public transit and active modes of transportation, if and whenever possible. One less car on the road makes the road that much safer for everyone.
  11. Let kids off away from traffic. Usually, that is the passenger side of the vehicle.
  12. Walk a block. To help avoid vehicle congestion in the immediate vicinity of the school, consider parking a short distance away, and walk your kids the rest of the way.

In recent years, failure to stop for school busses with flashing red lights has become so prominent in some areas that transportation safety officials are pushing to have video cameras installed on school busses to help capture offenders.

Drivers should also be aware that they can be charged if they pass a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. The penalties for failing to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights range from as little as $167 for a first offence in British Columbia to as high as $4000 for a second offence in Ontario. Each infraction will also allow drivers to gain anywhere from 2 – 9 demerit points on their license depending of course on the province. It is also worthy to note that in addition to the penalties listed, offenders in British Columbia with a 2nd or 3rd offense will receive an increase in insurance premiums of $300 & $640 respectively, while Ontario offers possible jail time after a second offense.

Let’s all do our part to keep everyone safe this back-to-school season.


Cheryl Dempsey / Benefits Administrator / PEO Canada

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