It is almost Labour Day, and many Canadian families are counting down to those first exciting days of the new school year. It is common knowledge that the first weeks of September are often a time of increased danger for drivers and pedestrians, as they adjust to new routines and as an increased number of students, staff and vehicles converge on school property. With this in mind, it is important that we turn our minds to our responsibility to keep children safe, as parents and motor vehicle drivers.
Rules of the road are necessary in order to keep everyone safe. Improper driving in a school zone could result in serious injuries, not to mention significant fines and a potential increase to your insurance premiums. Passing a school bus improperly, failing to obey school crossing signs, and speeding in school zones, to name just a few, are all major offences and can easily be prevented by using common sense and driving carefully within the law.
Here are some important safety tips to remember when driving around school property and in designated school traffic safety zones:
- Always stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing. Children can be excited and energetic when going to, or getting off the bus. They might run to or from the school bus and across the road. When approaching a school bus, ensure that you stop well away when its lights are flashing and its stop arm is out.
- Respect the posted speed limits. While the speed limits in a school zone may seem excessively low, if children run out into the road way, the slower speed will give you more time to react and avoid an accident.
- Obey the crossing guard at all times. Crossing guards play a key role in helping children to travel to and from school independently. Students rely on the crossing guard to tell them when it is safe to cross the roadway and drivers who disregard a crossing guard’s signals can put the children in peril as they may not be observing the traffic.
- Do not pass other vehicles in a school zone. It is in fact prohibited, and passing almost always involves traveling faster than the posted school speed limit, which lowers your reaction time. Avoid making unusual moves such as driving in reverse or performing U-turns or three-point turns -- such unpredictable movements can catch children (and other drivers) off guard.
- Learn and follow your school’s rules. School staff take great care to develop drop-off and pick-up procedures that are intended to keep everyone safe, but following the rules often requires patience. Respect “No parking” and “No stopping” zones in order to avoid causing any unnecessary traffic jams which often lead to frustration and impulsive driving maneuvers. If possible, avoid driving into the school parking lot or any areas where school buses pick up and drop off the children.
- Teach your children the rules of the road. After a long summer break, students of all ages can benefit from a refresher on pedestrian safety and school bus rules. Teaching your children about traffic rules (and reminding them regularly) will reduce the likelihood that your children will dart out into a roadway, or disobey the crossing guards or the school bus drivers who are there to protect them. Be a good role model for your children by obeying the same rules you expect them to follow.
- Expect the unexpected. Children are unpredictable and can dart into traffic at any time. This goes for teenagers as well . As a driver, you are required to have control of your vehicle at all times. By observing the rules, driving at an appropriate speed, and minimizing distractions, you will be better able to react and avoid an accident.
We all want to avoid being involved in a motor vehicle accident, particularly one involving young victims. Accidents can cause your insurance rates to go up significantly. If you are sued you could be exposed to personal liability. Even if you are not at fault for an accident, there are untold emotional consequences for you. Slow down and be careful this school year.
At Howie, Sacks & Henry we represent all manner of accident victims, including those who have suffered injury at the hands of negligent operators of automobiles and trucks. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident or sustained injury as a result of a collision with a vehicle, please contact Michael Henry at 416-361-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.