As the school year starts and children return to in-person learning again, driving safely to avoid school zone accidents is crucial.
8:30 am on a weekday is one of the most hectic times of the day for most families. School zones, in particular, are packed full of pedestrians, buses, and cars and can be tricky to navigate. According to a survey by CAA National in 2019, 6 in 10 Canadians believe that school zones are more unsafe than ever before due to reckless and distracted driving. Safety measures are in place to protect students and prevent school zone accidents that both new and old drivers should familiarize themselves with.
Keep an eye out for school zones.
The first step to preventing school zone accidents is identifying when you’re in or approaching a school zone. Not all school zones are tucked away in quiet neighbourhoods; many face busy roads and high-traffic areas. Be on the lookout for school zone signs (the five-sided, yellow and black sign with a picture of pedestrians on it) and speed limit changes.
Eyes on the road at all times
Distracted driving is hazardous and a leading cause of accidents. Always keep your eyes on the road when driving in school zones (and just in general). Staying alert and aware of your surroundings is the best way to prevent an accident before it happens.
Drive the speed limit
Speed limits in school zones are stringent and carry a hefty fine if you’re caught speeding in one. These speed limits are in place for a reason; a vehicle driving at a slower speed is less likely to cause as much harm or damage in a school zone accident. Additionally, speeding inhibits your ability to safely come to an abrupt stop if there is an emergency or obstacle on the road.
Practice time management
School zones are busy, and if you’re commuting at the same time as school buses, you should always expect heavy traffic. Parents should also schedule drop-offs and pick-ups appropriately to account for extra traffic and delays. Being in a rush adds to stress levels, can affect your judgment, and contribute to causing otherwise avoidable school zone accidents.
Always stop for school buses.
Drivers must always stop for school buses; it’s the law; however, for whatever reason – whether distracted driving, poor education or carelessness – many people fail to stop accordingly. If you approach a school bus on the road or near a school zone, stop immediately when the buses stop sign is flashing and yield to students and other pedestrians.
Do your part to prevent school zone accidents.
Being vigilant, cautious, and patient when driving is the best way to avoid school zone accidents. Every driver has a responsibility to abide by the rules and laws of the road and drive safely. It’s not uncommon for new road signs to appear or change and for speed limits to change. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take time to refresh your knowledge and educate yourself. As a parent, teaching and reminding children about back-to-school safety can help keep them safe too. Together we can easily help reduce and prevent school zone accidents.