School Zone Safety: Tips for Pedestrians, Drivers, and Parents


School Zone Safety - Zayouna Law Firm


Ensuring safety in school zones is of the utmost importance, not only for the welfare of the students but also for the peace of mind of parents, educators, and the community at large. Accidents are all too common around school zones, but by taking the necessary safety precautions, we can all play a part in reducing the likelihood of a pedestrian accident.

Let’s delve into the importance of school zone safety and provide tips for pedestrians, drivers, and parents to ensure a safe transition back to school.

Importance of School Zone Safety

School zones are designed to protect our children, but accidents can and do still happen all too often. According to Transport Canada, there are an average of 43 deaths and around 3,000 children injured in pedestrian accidents every year across the country. Many of these accidents occur in and around school zones, where there is high pedestrian traffic, busy intersections, and lots of rules and signage to pay attention to.

The bustle of back to school is one of the reasons why September is the most dangerous month for pedestrian accidents, and why it is so important to stay vigilant when driving or walking in school zones.

Ensuring the safety of children in and around school zones is a shared responsibility. Drivers, pedestrians, and parents all play vital roles in creating a safe environment for our children. Let’s explore some practical tips to help each group fulfill their part in school zone safety.


Safety Tips for Drivers

1. Observe Speed Limits

School zones typically have reduced speed limits during school hours. Keep an eye out for flashing speed limit signs and always adhere to these limits. Slowing down helps to decrease stopping distance and gives drivers more reaction time in case a child runs onto the road.

2. Stay Alert

Be attentive and minimize distractions while driving through school zones. Put away your phone, avoid adjusting the radio, and focus on the road. Stay diligent as you monitor vehicle and pedestrian activity so you can properly react to any unexpected behaviours.

3. Watch for School Buses

When a school bus stops with its flashing red lights and stop signs extended, both sides of traffic must come to a complete stop. Wait until the bus’s lights stop flashing and the driver signals you to proceed. Even after the school bus signals you to proceed, keep an eye out for any children about to cross the street or run off the bus.

4. Yield to Pedestrians

Be prepared to yield to pedestrians, especially at crosswalks and intersections within school zones. Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and never pass a vehicle that is stopped or slowing down in a school zone, because odds are they are stopping for a pedestrian.

5. Follow Parking Rules

Park only in designated areas and follow the school’s parking rules. Schools have specific parking designations for a reason. Failing to follow them can disrupt the flow of traffic, obstruct visibility, and create additional hazards for pedestrians.


Safety Tips for Pedestrians

1. Only Cross at Designated Crosswalks

Cross the street at designated crosswalks or pedestrian crossings and follow the signal of crossing guards. Predictable pedestrian behaviour is a key step for pedestrian safety.

2. Always Look Both Ways Before Crossing

Before crossing the road, remember to look left, right, and left again to ensure no vehicles are approaching.

3. Stay on Sidewalks and Designated Walkways

Always walk on the sidewalk when available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic to see oncoming vehicles.

4. Make Eye Contact With Approaching Drivers

When crossing at a crosswalk or intersection, try to make eye contact with approaching drivers whenever possible before you enter the road.

5. Avoid Distractions

Don’t use your phone or other electronic devices while walking near traffic and remove your headphones or earbuds. This will help to make you more aware of your surroundings so you can react quickly to any potential dangers.


Safety Tips for Parents

1. Teach Your Kids About Road Safety

Educate your children about road safety from an early age. Teach them how to use crosswalks, look both ways, and the importance of never darting into the road.

2. Plan For Your Children to Walk to School With Other Kids

If your children walk to school, try to organize a “walking school bus” with their friends or other parents to help increase the visibility of the group.

3. Follow Drop-Off and Pick-Up Zones

Follow the school’s guidelines for drop-off and pick-up zones. Don’t double-park or block traffic, as this can create chaos and potential hazards.

4. Have Your Children Enter and Exit the Car on the Side Closest to the Sidewalk

It is safest to have your kids enter and exit your vehicle as close to walkways as possible to avoid them having to walk in the road or the middle of parking lots. Do not have your child exit the car into a traffic lane or cross the street at a non-designated crosswalk.