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Back to school means drivers need to pay greater attention

By Blair Qualey
Be extra cautious in and around school zones as children head back to school.

By Blair Qualey

It’s that time of year when summer is coming to an end, the Labour Day Weekend has passed, and the start of the school year has arrived. And this means that drivers need to pay extra attention.

Every month in B.C., 30 children are injured in crashes while walking or riding their bike. Police and volunteers will be closely monitoring drivers’ speeds in school zones as the new school year begins. Our friends at ICBC have some important tips for drivers, parents and caregivers – especially in and around school zones where the volume of cars and traffic will be high during certain periods of the day.

Key reminders include:

  • Don’t allow frustrations to get the better of you. Know that back to school means additional cars, school buses and children on roads and sidewalks – so accept it and build extra time into your schedule to get to your destination.
  • As a rule of thumb, reduce your speed in residential areas. For those who need a refresher, the speed limit in school zones is 30 kilometres an hour, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Never overtake another vehicle while in a school zone, avoid any three-point turns or U-turns and obey crossing guards. Some school zones also have flashers – so be prepared to stop and don’t block the crosswalk when making a right turn.
  • Leave a greater distance when you’re behind a school bus so that if the yellow lights start flashing, you’ll have more time to stop. Come to a complete stop when you see a bus displaying flashing red lights or extending its stop arm. Children are often not paying attention when disembarking, so be extra cautious.
  • If you’re a parent who drops your child off at school, there are several important safety tips to keep in mind. Finding an unloading area can be tough in a crowded school zone but remember to never double-park. Double-parking blocks visibility for other vehicles and pedestrians as well.
  • Keep children out of harm’s way by loading and unloading them from the passenger side. Don’t encourage mid-block crossing if you have to unload from across the street.

Parents, whether your child rides the school bus, takes a bike to school, walks to school or gets dropped off, it’s never too early to teach them how to stay safe on the road. Take the time to go through safety rules with children and teens who travel to school by themselves before sending them off to school this fall – and driving safety aside, also remind them not to accept rides from strangers.

Drivers, take extra care and caution, and if you have a teen who has recently acquired a drivers’ license, take the time to sit down and reinforce some safe driving tips, especially taking a break from phones while driving.

This is an exciting time for little ones, so let’s all be extra cautious to ensure their return to the classroom is a memorable one – for all the right reasons.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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