As drivers, throughout the summer, we've become used to the absence of children en route to and from school and around school entrances and playgrounds. Perhaps we've become comfortable with that absence, maybe even a bit careless.
But school is about to start again in most Canadian jurisdictions so it's time to readjust our attitudes and driving habits to recognize that fact.
Safety advocates remind drivers to pay close attention to their surroundings and adjust their driving accordingly – especially when driving through areas where children are likely to be present.
The BCAA Road Safety Foundation Foundation offers a few tips to both drivers and kids to help keep them safe on and around our roads this school year.
Tips for drivers:
• Slow down and watch out for kids and be prepared to stop – especially in or near school and residential areas, intersections and crosswalks. Look for clues such as "Slow Down, Kids Playing" signs, School Zone signs, safety patrollers, bicycles, and playgrounds.
• Expect the unexpected – such as kids darting out from between parked cars. Always check for pedestrians when you're backing up, and be aware that kids could be present on any side of the vehicle.
• Let kids out on the side of the car closest to the sidewalk when dropping them off at school.
• Follow the rules of the road - yield to pedestrians and don't make U-turns, roll through stop signs or stop in no-stopping zones.
• Don't pass school buses when their red lights are flashing as this means that children are loading and unloading.
• Use extra caution in adverse weather conditions.
Tips for parents/guardians and kids:
• Teach your kids to find a safe place to cross the road, such as patrolled or marked crosswalks. Make sure they look both ways and make eye contact with drivers before they cross the street.
• Make it a rule for kids to stay off their cell phones or electronic devices while crossing the street; make sure they focus on the road and surrounding environment.
• Plan a safe route – walk on the sidewalk and consider having your child walk with a friend or parent or join a walking school bus.
• Teach your kids to look out for parked cars as cars may pull out or start moving when they don't expect it.
• Make sure your kids wear bright or reflective clothing so they can be seen in the dark or in poor weather. If they ride a bike, make sure they always wear a helmet and clothing with reflective strips. Equip their bike with lights, reflectors and a bell.