MEDIA RELEASE: Drivers asked to stay alert and slow down as students prepare to return to schoolSeptember 3, 20203 min read
COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things and, the return to school is no different. This year, children are being encouraged to walk and bike to school to support social distancing. In some parts of Ontario, the start of school is even being staggered, and some children may be doing a combination of in-person and distance learning. In addition, many children will be using masks that may obstruct their line of sight.
For these reasons, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is reminding everyone to take extra caution this year while travelling through school zones.
“As students prepare to reunite with friends and classmates after a six-month hiatus, many might forget to take the extra precautions needed to stay safe. This means there is an even bigger responsibility to watch for children travelling to and from school,” says Raymond Chan, manager of government relations for CAA SCO.
Keeping our kids and neighbourhoods safe is a shared responsibility. That’s why this year, we are providing FREE “Slow Down Please” lawn signs to anyone living in South Central Ontario. When well-placed, these signs aim to make roads safer for children and those living in the community. Remember to check local bylaws before installing signs on private property. Anyone can pick up a maximum of two signs at any CAA Store, while quantities last.
Drivers can also use the following CAA tips to ensure they are staying safe in school zones.
- Make eye contact with children: With the excitement of back to school, anticipate that children may not easily see or hear your moving vehicle. Make eye contact with passing pedestrians and cyclists.
- Reduce traffic by walking: Incorporate a short walk into your commute to school. CAA encourages parents to park a block away and walk to school, if possible, to reduce congestion and make school zones safer.
- Slow down: Know the speed limit in your neighbourhood’s school zones and respect them.
- Watch for more school buses: Always stop for the buses’ flashing lights and wait for children to get safely on or off. Stay alert and watch for children or parents crossing the road when the bus moves on.
- Choose a safe spot to drop off and pick up your children from school: Follow your school’s rules and don’t park illegally, it can put your child’s safety at risk. Instead, use the designated drop off areas or consider a spot a bit farther away from school that is easily accessible and safe.
The above tips are crucial in maintaining a safe school zone. According to a CAA poll, nearly 25 per cent of drivers reported witnessing a near miss or collision in a school zone, more than half of which involved a child. The poll also revealed 70 per cent of Canadians said they have witnessed someone speeding in a school zone.
CAA also supports safety in school zones through the CAA School Safety Patrol program. CAA designed this program to protect, educate, and empower elementary school children on safe road-crossing practices. Our Ontario Road Safety Resource is a toolkit for teachers to educate Ontario youth about road safety.
Raymond Chan Manager, Government Relations
Subject matter expert on transportation issues at the municipal level.