Happy times are here again!
It’s that time of year again. You know, the time that makes all parents happier than their kids. The start of the school year is upon us once again. We need to drive a little more carefully in school zones and in playground areas. Here are a few tips to help our kids survive the school year.
The first thing to remember is the sidewalks and crosswalks will be busier come September with pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders. This means we need to keep our speeds reduced. The slower we go, the easier and quicker we can respond to changes with the pedestrian traffic. Remember as you drive through school zones the speed should be 40 km/h in Ontario and 30 km/h in other jurisdictions. We should also drive slower if there are a lot of kids running around. Remember also that parents are dropping off their kids at school in the mornings and picking them up after school, so please be careful of drivers pulling away from the curb while in school zones.
Sometimes the kids don’t walk in the crosswalk, so it helps to see if we notice when they walk between parked vehicles. The easiest way to see this is to look through the vehicle to see if someone is standing in front of the vehicle. If you can’t see through it, look underneath it for feet or bicycle wheels. Considering that the body of the vehicle is above the road surface and the wheels are the only parts that touch the road, you’ll be able to see someone’s feet walking toward your path, but this only works from a distance so do this early by looking well ahead.
If you’re coming up to school buses, remember you must stop 20 metres (or 60 feet) from the bus if the lights are flashing (in most jurisdictions) and the stop arm is out. This applies if the school bus is coming in either direction, unless there’s a traffic island separating the traffic. As of September 1st, 2005 in Ontario, the vehicle owner is the person who gets the ticket and the 6 points if they drove past a school bus with lights flashing, not the driver. This means you must be responsible for letting someone else drive your vehicle. Crossing guards also need to be respected. Please wait until they have put down their stop sign and have left the crosswalk before proceeding.
If you’re turning and you have to be stopped before turning, check your blind spot before moving. Most kids are completely unaware of cars, so we have to watch for them. If you’ve been stopped for a few moments, the kids may catch up to where you have been stopped. By checking your blind spot, you’ll be made aware of them before it’s too late.
Let’s keep our kids safe during this school year and look for them before they get too close to us. Just think of it as big brother watching over them!