It is that time of the year once again as both Catholic and public schools are back in full swing this week for the 2017/2018 school year.
Nearly three quarter of a million students across the province returned to school this week, with nearly half of those riding school buses, which do not always include plenty of student foot traffic of kids. The time is now to shift those driving patterns among the general population of the fancy-free, top down, pedal to the metal attitudes of the warm summer to cool and calculated driving patterns of the fall/winter.
More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program.
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car.
Check with your kid’s friends parents if you can organize car pooling for pick ups and drop offs at school. Having less traffic on the road for safety reasons is always a good thing.
Make an effort to be extra cautious driving in school zones. Young kids are often excited to see their friends/classmates at school and are sometimes reckless themselves darting in and out of traffic.
That caution even includes well into the night for children who may be leaving their school after a sporting event /drama production.
Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
Try to make eye contact with children who are waiting to cross the road.
Try and drop kids off on the same side of the street and block as their school is to avoid children crossing the street when they do not have to.
If young children are walking to school themselves, map out the safest route for them to follow, which may not always be the shortest route.
Just as adults need to take precautions behind the wheel, so too must children be taught to raise their own awareness as well.
Always plan to be at a bus stop five minutes earlier than need be, as running late can cause children to chase after school buses that are pulling away, paying little attention to the surroundings around them. Stay on the sidewalk, well away from the roadway and stay back until the bus has come to a full stop and the door opens. Teach children to never stick anything out of the window on the bus.
If your child needs to cross the street, teach them to look to the left, then to the right, and to the left once more before crossing the street. Use the handrail when boarding or exiting the bus.
Paying little attention to traffic safety during the school year can lead to a hefty fine or something much, much worse, an injury or death of a child.
Err on the side of safety this school year.