With school days just around the corner, motorists need to take extra care around crosswalks. Whether it’s elementary school children crossing slowly on shorter legs or high school students rushing to morning classes, soon there will be more pedestrian traffic than usual. Ensure you’re up to date on Ontario’s crosswalk laws and make sure you know your crosswalk do’s and don’ts.
DO know your terminology.
There are three types of pedestrian crossings:
- A pedestrian crosswalk is a marked path for people on foot crossing at a roadway intersection with a traffic light or a stop sign.
- A pedestrian crossover is a connection not at a traditional intersection that joins sidewalks or walkways on opposite sides of the street with roadway paint and markings and signage that may also light up.
- A school crossing is any pedestrian crosswalk or crossover that also has a crossing guard at designated times.
DO yield the entire roadway to pedestrian crossovers and school crossings.
This means waiting until all walkers are safely across the road and back on the sidewalk on the other side of the road before entering the crossing zone with your vehicle or bicycle. The marked crossing area must be completely clear before proceeding with your vehicle. Although it is rare, crossovers that include a raised, concrete divider in the center can be treated as two halves, and traffic may proceed once pedestrians are safely on the centre platform.
DON’T treat crossing guards like street signs!
Crossing guards are pedestrians. Always keep their safety in mind and make sure they are completely clear of the roadway before entering their school crossing area with your vehicle.
DO watch for flashing lights or pedestrians waiting to cross.
Always watch for flashing lights or pedestrians waiting to cross as you approach a crossover or crossing. Approach slowly and be prepared to react. If pedestrians are about to enter the road or are in the crossover, come to a complete stop well in advance – at least 5 metres – of the crossing markings.
Don’t inch into a crossover or school crossing.
Inching into a pedestrian crossover or school crossing while pedestrians are still in the roadway can result in a fine, loss of demerit points or both. Fines are doubled in school zones and community safety zones and apply to both vehicles and bicycles.
DO yield to pedestrians on roundabouts.
When waiting to enter a roundabout, watch for pedestrians waiting to cross at a designated crosswalk, and allow them to cross your entrance path first. When exiting a roundabout, stop on the circle to allow walkers to finish crossing your exit lane.
DON’T pass another car within 30 metres of a pedestrian crossover.
It probably goes without saying, but never pass a vehicle that is waiting at a pedestrian crossover or school crossing.
DO respect speed limits in school zones.
Especially when lowered during times of peak school foot traffic. Watch for signage marking community safety areas and respect all traffic calming measures, especially during school hours.
DON’T ride your bicycle across a pedestrian crossover.
If you are using a shared pathway, walk your bike across the crossover. And when using the road, obey all traffic laws for crossovers and school crossings, including waiting until they are completely clear before proceeding.
DO be patient
Children, families, and seniors may all take extra time to get across the street and remember the roadway must be completely clear before you move forward into a marked crossover or school crossing. Patience, care, and careful attention all make for safer, happier neighbourhoods.
Earn your Road SMARTS
If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts