7 Tips for Safer School Zones

Back to school time means: lunches to pack, grumpy kids to dress, homework to finish, all before rushing out the door. It also means setting a good example of safety on the way to and from school, by following these school zone safety tips.

Avoid School Parking Lots

Poor visibility and cramped spaces make parking lots dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. Please respect ‘No Parking’ signs and encourage your kids to walk around, rather than cut through. Always slow to a crawl and be aware of small pedestrians when backing up. Even if there are visitor spots available, play it safe and park a block away to cut down on congestion.

… And School Bus Zones

Trying to park a school bus full of excited children is hard enough at the best of times. Buses have big blind spots and poor manoeuvrability, which is why we put the bus loading zones as close to the school as possible. Parking in the bus zone, even for a few moments, just adds to the congestion. When passing buses on foot stay at least five steps back from the bus and stay extra alert for pedestrians when driving by.

Point, Pause, Proceed at Crosswalks

School patrollers help our children cross safely but they aren’t always there to remind drivers to slow down. Play show and tell with your kids – tell them how to cross safely using the Point, Pause, Proceed method, then show them you mean it by setting a good example. Use the crosswalk, cross at the corner, and make eye contact with drivers. Make sure the vehicle stops before stepping off the curb. Lead the way and watch your children follow!

Extra Attention in Drop-Off & Pick-Up Zones

The morning rush and after school pick-ups are the busiest times for teachers, parents, kids, and drivers. Minimize the risk by parking down the block and stretching your legs. Remember the sign with the stick child chasing the ball? Scan between parked cars, avoid bus zones, don’t stop near crosswalks or let passengers out in the middle of the road. Avoid jaywalking and illegal u-turns. Help reinforce the safety message by leaving a few minutes early and taking your time.

Drive Distraction-free

By now we all know that being distracted behind the wheel can net you a pretty hefty fine. But did you know that around one out of every three collisions is due to driver distraction? Set a great example by staying focused, keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. The same rules apply to pedestrians too — teach your kids to put the phone away, avoid headphones, and always be aware of their surroundings, especially around moving vehicles.

Don’t Idle

When the weather is cold, it can be tempting to keep the motor running during pick-up time. But cold weather is particularly bad for vehicle exhaust, which lingers close to the ground where children breathe, triggering asthma attacks. Unnecessary idling also wastes fuel and is hard on your engine (not to mention the environment) – the best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. Let’s follow our children’s lead and help protect the environment by never leaving a vehicle running in a school zone.

Set a Respectful Example

Instead of pointing fingers, we want our students to join hands and come up with solutions to school zone safety challenges. When cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians share the responsibility and look out for each other, everyone stays safe. We’ve all heard the expression “Do as I say, not as I do,” but it’s time to start walking the talk in school zones. From obeying speed limits and no parking zones, to hopping off our bikes at crosswalks, and making eye contact with drivers, setting a good example teaches our children be safety leaders.

Learn more about simple everyday practices that can make a big difference. Visit WayToBe.ca for games and tools to teach your children school zone safety skills.

When I'm not busy advocating for safer roads and communities, I can be found advocating for my children to eat their vegetables and clean their rooms. I'm committed to helping AMA members find the confidence to live their best lives.