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Driving Tips For The Back-to-School Season -

August 23, 2013

Driving Tips For The Back To School SeasonAs summer is coming to a close, students will be heading back to school for lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The new school year also means that drivers need brush up on their driving skills with some lesson reviews of their own. With more children roaming the streets and police on the lookout to protect the little ones, it is crucial that drivers follow these lessons for safe driving.

Lesson 1: Obey School Zone Speed Limits

The speed limit in school zones are posted as either 30 or 40 km/hour for a distinct reason. It gives drivers the chance to be more attentive on the road at the slower speed. Slow down when driving closer to the school zone and become vigilant for any children that many unexpectedly run out into the street. If a child should cross the road all of a sudden, the slower speed will allow more time to assess the situation and stop the vehicle in a safe manner.

Drivers have an additional incentive for slowing down in school zones. Police officers will be keeping a careful watch at the beginning of the school year, while looking out for motorists that are speeding. If drivers choose to disobey the posted speed limit, the chances are high that they will be receiving a ticket. Depending upon how much you exceed the limit, there can be hefty fines and demerit points on the license. The guidelines are as follows:

A fine from a speeding ticket will depend on how much over the speed limit you allegedly drove. Below the various levels of infractions are listed based on the speed a person is said to drive. Each notice of offence will therefore have two amounts on them.

For more information on the cost of speeding, please read:

Furthermore, drivers who receive even a minor ticket infraction could see a dramatic increase in their annual insurance premium rate. With a newly tarnished driving record, drivers can lose any previous "conviction free" policy discounts, which will have a tremendous impact on insurance costs. Serious speeding convictions can cause an increase of 50 percent or more for the premium. Since insurance companies look at driving records for the last three years, the premiums will linger for awhile and end up costing drivers big. The easiest way for motorists to avoid all of these hassles is by taking their foot off the gas pedal, and keeping aware of their surroundings.


Lesson 2: Always Stop For School Buses

In Ontario, more than 800,000 children ride a school bus to school every day. Doing the math, it is obvious that the streets are going to become heavily dotted with big, yellow buses as September rolls around. When one of these school buses stops to pick up or drop off a child, motorists travelling in both directions are required by Canada law to stop at least 20 metres away from the bus. Be sure to obey the red flashing lights and the lit-up stop arm, which both serve as warning signs that children are entering or exiting the vehicle. Never make the extremely dangerous decision to pass a school bus, either on the right or the left.

Drivers have the responsibility of staying watchful for children when a school bus is stopped. When children are getting on or off the bus, they are often excited, energetic, and bouncy. Also, young children lack a full understanding and sense of danger. They may unexpectedly dart out from the stopped school bus, or cross the street without looking both ways. Motorists should stop as soon as they approach the flashing lights, while leaving the loading zone unobstructed.

Not only will this safety procedure help protect children's lives; it will also prevent the hassle of receiving a ticket and paying a fine. Failing to stop for a school bus is considered a major traffic offense that comes with steep consequences. Drivers will receive a large fine up to $2,000, as well as six demerit points on their driving records. And it does not stop there. These individuals will find themselves being categorized as a high risk driver by insurance companies, which will add up to thousands of extra dollars annually in higher premium costs. Sounds like excellent motivation for staying patient and waiting for school buses to safely complete their route.


Lesson 3: Stop At Pedestrian Crosswalks

In Canada, drivers are required to stop for all pedestrians that are crossing the street within a designated crosswalk. When approaching a crosswalk, drivers should be aware of all the surroundings to make sure that no one is going to walk across the road.

Additionally, it is an excellent idea for drivers to keep their headlights on while they are driving through a school zone. This will help children, crossing guards, and other cars notice their vehicle more easily. If a driver does not have a car that possesses automatic daytime headlights, they should manually turn them on.

When crossing guards are regulating traffic through a crosswalk, be sure to obey them at all times. Whether the driver thinks they are right or wrong, the crossing guard's instructions should never be disregarded. Little ones depend on the guard to allow them to cross only when the situation has become safe. If their instructions are not followed, there could be serious consequences that endanger children's lives.

Further Reading: Accidents Involving Pedestrians: Who is at Fault?

Lesson 4: Never Pass Other Vehicles in School Zones

Passing is strictly prohibited within school zones. When drivers are in the process of passing other vehicles on the road, they typically travel faster than the given speed limit and their visibility is severely hindered. Since children will not expect your car to be passing and in a different lane than normal, this could lead to a harmful situation when they start crossing the street. Likewise, drivers should never perform a U-turn or 3 point turn while in the school zone. These irregular driving maneuvers will catch children off guard and may contribute to an accident.

Long story short, drivers must be patient while traveling through school zones and focus solely on driving in the normal, forward position. Plan the commute ahead of time so that there is plenty of time to comfortably reach the destination. Drivers that do not wish to obey school zone laws or reduce their speeds should stick to routes that are on major roads or highways instead.

Further Reading: Share the Road - A Guide for Both Cyclists and Drivers

Lesson 5: If Possible, Avoid Driving in School Parking Lots

School parking lots are notorious for being heavily congested, especially during the start and end of the school day. With so many parents, guardians, and school buses crammed into the lot, there is an increased chance of accidents occurring. If possible, parents that are picking up and dropping off their children are often encouraged to avoid driving into the parking lot. Parking across the street and using a crosswalk to reach the school will be safer for everyone. Reducing the amount of traffic that is circulating in the lot will help protect the children that are gleefully skipping to or from school.

However, this may not be an opportunity that is readily available for all schools. If parents or guardians must drive into the parking lot, always remember to respect the clearly marked pick up and drop off areas. Always obey "No Parking" and "No Stopping" signs as well. This will be an incredible aid in lessening the amount of avoidable traffic congestion that leads to unsafe walking conditions for children.

Lesson 6: Buckle Up

With children back to school, parents will likely be transporting kids more often to school, sport team practices or games, or birthday parties. Canada law declares that all drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt at all times when the vehicle is in motion. Therefore, drivers must be responsible and ensure that all passengers under 16 have a seatbelt secured around them. Infants and toddlers must be placed in appropriate car seats. All kids under the age of eight, who weigh below 80 pounds and are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall, are required to ride in a booster seat. Otherwise, the driver will receive a fine and two demerit points for each passenger under 16 that is not properly secured.

Parents should use this opportunity to educate their children on car safety, so that they can learn how important it is to wear a seatbelt. Be a good role model for children by following these same rules and wearing a seatbelt at all times. The more that safety rules are reinforced in the minds of sons and daughters, the more likely they will stay free from harm.

Lesson 7: Remain Alert

Drivers should make every effort possible to stay focused and alert while operating their vehicle at all times, including outside of school zones. This involves drivers keeping their hands on the wheel, instead of using cell phones or other electronic devices. Eating and drinking while driving should also be limited. Clearing the mind from all of these distractions will increase awareness of the driver's surroundings and prepare them to react if a certain dangerous situation arises.

Further Reading: Is Distracted Driving the New Drunk Driving?

With school starting back up again, drivers should also keep in mind the bigger kids who are starting to drive themselves to school. Inexperienced teenage drivers are likely to be on the road more than usual, and other drivers should watch for them. Of course, parents must also remind their teenagers of safety precautions they should take when driving to and from school.

Further Reading: Car Insurance For Young Drivers

Lesson 8: Teach Children Rules of Safety and Proper Bus Etiquette

Parents can help keep their children safe by educating them about safety rules. Remind them to stay away from the streets and parking lot while they are at school. Teach them how to properly cross the street in a marked crosswalk with the aid of an adult. All of these precautionary lessons will significantly reduce the likelihood that the child will be struck and injured by a car accidentally.

Children that are going to be riding on the school bus must be taught proper etiquette and safety measures. First and foremost, teach them how important it is to respect the bus driver and follow all of his or her instructions. Instruct children to remain seated on the bus and refrain from distracting behaviors, like yelling or throwing objects. Have the child wait for the school bus at least five steps back from the street, and stay there until the bus stops completely. Once the doors open, the child can then move forward to get on the bus and wave goodbye. Remind them to walk carefully instead of running, especially when crossing the street. Parents must ensure that their children are well-aware of these safety rules to keep them safe and sound through the school day.

If drivers fail to make the grade by studying these helpful hints for safe driving, it could cost them in fines, demerit points, and increased auto insurance premiums. Even worse, it could place children at risk for injury while walking or riding a school bus to and from school. A combined effort of educated drivers and children will significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents from occurring. Before heading out on the roads this Fall, use these tips as a refresher course to ensure a happy, healthy, and safe new school year for all.


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