As students prepare to head back to the classroom, parents and school busses will soon flood the streets again. Here are some tips from our friends at Power Trucks USA on how to stay safe on the roads in the coming months.
Some topics are worth repeating often. Back-to-school safety is at the top of the list for drivers and pedestrians alike who can benefit from such repetitive, cautious reminders. Drivers must be alert to new school traffic patterns after the summer lull. If nothing else, inattentive driving around school operations can be costly. In some cities such as Toronto, speed cameras are in place to record anyone who drives over the speed limit.
School Carpooling Strategies
But let’s assume drivers want to do the right thing for its own sake. With carpools long a staple of Canadian school transportation and the increasing trend in carpooling in some provinces due to higher fuel prices, a review is in order.
- Mind the Speed Limit: The speed limit in a school zone is 40 km/h. School zones are well marked; drivers must be alert. The best attitude is don’t be in a hurry in and around school zones. Be sure to allow enough lead time to avoid running late to work or appointments.
- No distracted driving: It’s best to turn off cell phones while transporting kids and teens to school. Remember, your young passengers are watching, so set a good example. Above all, keep your eyes on the road, even when talking with passengers. And kids get distracted too – be vigilant for children running into the road from between stopped and parked vehicles.
- Watch for school buses: The authorities are serious on this point. Assume there will be kids around school buses. Stay back a safe distance and then some – and do not pass a school bus with flashers engaged. A first-time fine is $2,000 – but a second offense is $4,000 and possibly a six-month jail term.
- Be cautious in school zones: As with school buses, there are kids in motion who are excited and probably not paying attention to traffic. Go slow, and don’t pass other vehicles no matter how much in a hurry. Don’t double park, as this impedes line-of-sight for kids and other drivers. Also, remember to slow at crosswalks and for crossing guards.
- Use designated drop-off and pick-up areas: Whether carpooling kids to a school bus stop or school, there may be safe locations for the children to exit and enter the carpool vehicle away from the most intent school traffic. Take your time selecting such a location and make sure your passengers don’t have to cross a road.
- Remember the basics, including vehicle maintenance: Everyone must wear a seatbelt – and the backseat is safer for kids. Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Keep up with regular maintenance, such as tire pressure and oil changes. Check the engine coolant, battery power, and all other fluid levels, such as for the brakes. Don’t ignore warning lights and carry jumper cables and emergency flares.
Above all, be sure to have fun with your young passengers while keeping them safe! A sure trick is to give them control over the vehicle radio – and be sure to sing along while keeping a sharp eye on the road.