Brrrrinnnnng! The sound of a school bell signals the need for drivers behind the wheel to be in the ‘zone’ when travelling near schools. Whether you need a reminder or want to make sure you’re following the rules to help keep all road users safe, keep reading for five tips for safer school zones:
Obey Posted Speed Limits
It is not safe to speed through areas that are densely populated with children, parents and other people making their way around the neighbourhood. How fast a car is moving can mean the difference between life and death should the driver hit a pedestrian. The below image from the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals clearly shows how hitting someone at 30 km/h versus 60 km/h means injuries versus death. Save a life. Slow down in school zones and residential areas.
Walk Instead of Drive
Vehicle congestion in and around schools creates hazards for young cyclists and pedestrians. Try not to park in front of or near schools. Instead, create a plan where you park your car a block or two away from the school and walk the rest of the way. It’s not only good exercise, but it also creates less congestion and safer conditions for all road users in school zones.
And remember, do not park in no parking/no stopping zones, even if it’s “only for a few seconds to drop off.”
Respect Crossing Guards
Did you know about the powers crossing guards hold? The Highway Traffic Act gives them the authority to legally create stoppages in traffic to allow pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who need to get across busy areas near school zones. With their authority and training, crossing guards are making a huge difference when it comes to road safety in school zones. And, in case you didn’t know, waiting for all pedestrians to cross the road, including crossing guards, is the law. Motorists are to wait until all walkers are safe across the road and back on the sidewalk on the other side of the road before entering the crossing zone. The marked crossing area must be completely clear before proceeding with your vehicle.
Inching into a pedestrian crossover or school crossing while pedestrians (including a crossing guard) 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. So, just be patient and wait until the area is clear.
Ditch the Distractions
Distractions while driving should be avoided at all costs. Put your phone away – better yet, put it in the trunk! Did you know that drivers are up to four times more likely to get in an accident when talking on a phone while driving? Keeping your eyes on the road instead of on a device could make the difference in causing an accident while behind the wheel in a school zone.
Take it Easy
All drivers need to be patient, especially while passing through a school zone. Drivers taking their time to allow pedestrians and rollers (people on bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc.) to find their way to and from this busy area provides a safer school zone for everyone. If you find yourself in a rush, perhaps you should have left earlier?
Creating a safe environment around a school zone is everyone’s responsibility. Find out more about road safety by taking the #RoadSMARTS pledge to show how you Support Making All Road Travel Safe. Learn more details and how to take the pledge for free by visiting https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.