As we usher in the beginning of September, students will begin their commute to the classroom once again. Motorists on their way to work or rushing to drop their kids off before the bell rings will have to be extra vigilant to avoid distracted driving and pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents. Drivers know what to do when approaching school buses and school zones but some fail to do it. Here are some do’s and dont’s when approaching school zones and school buses:
In Ontario, almost a million children use the school bus to get to and from school. It is, therefore, imperative for motorists to stop for a school bus when the lights are flashing. Children who are 14 years old and under are considered to be the most-at-risk group of pedestrians, according to Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF). Many children getting on and off the school bus will often not check their surroundings prior to crossing. We encourage you to always keep a look out for children, be patient and tolerant and to be prepared to stop, especially in residential areas and within school zones.
With the growing number of collisions, over the last few years the City of Ottawa has taken the step of installing more speed cameras. Although this has helped encourage many motorists to slow down and be mindful of the posted speed limits, that is not always the case. In school zones however, it is essential that drivers slow down. Posted speed limits are typically 40 kilometres per hour. This lower speed limit allows drivers to slow down or stop in the case of a child unexpectedly crossing the road.
How do you know you have entered a school zone? You will see posted signs indicate that you have now entered a school zone. We encourage you to keep an eye out for these signs as they are indicators to keep a look out for high pedestrian traffic, especially children.
Crossing guards are there to ensure that children can safely cross the street. When approaching, all motorists must come to a complete stop until both the crossing guard and children are safely off the road. There are serious consequences for those who decide to disobey a crossing guard as that decision comes with a $365 fine and 4 demerit points.
It is important to respect nearby school’s posted pick-up and drop-off areas, whether you are a parent or guardian or a by-passer, to avoid creating unnecessary congestion. By parking or stopping illegally, you create an unsafe condition for those around you and therefore compromise school zones. The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OTSA) encourages parents to park away from the school site and walk part way to the school with their children. The OSTA has created many resources such as the Walk-a-Block Maps for every school in Ottawa which provides not only a safe way to drop off your children at school but also allows traffic to flow more easily through school zones.
As parents get ready for the school year, we encourage them to remind children about pedestrian safety. To aide in this, the OTSA has also created walking map routes and Walk&Roll Meetup Maps to help children walk to school safely. Each school’s map shows children where they can meet up with their friends in a safe manner while walking to school.
As we brace for the start of the new school year, we offer the following advice: get off your phones, stay alert and keep our children safe. On behalf of the lawyers and staff at Burn Tucker Lachaine P.C., we wish everyone the very best for the 2022-2023 school year.
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