Back to school traffic safety

As thousands of children head back to school this fall, Vancouver Police and partners - Vancouver School Board and ICBC - are reminding motorists to slow down and pay attention in school zones.

"It's crucial that drivers slow down in school zones, watch for crosswalks, and be on the lookout for kids riding to school on their bikes," said Sgt. Paul Ballard of the Vancouver Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Section. "We all want our children to arrive at school and home safely."

Traffic officers and speed watch volunteers will be stepping up enforcement, making school zones a priority. School zone speed limits are 30 km/h between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Remember, the best way to avoid detention is to pay attention, and go slow in school zones.

"We strongly encourage students and their parents to consider walking or cycling to school to reduce traffic congestion and increase student safety," commented Vancouver Board of Education Chair Patti Bacchus.

"Sadly, car crashes are still the number one preventable cause of death for youth in BC," said Jill Blacklock, manager, Road Safety Delivery, ICBC. "Every year in BC there are 16,655 crashes involving children aged 5-18 resulting in 5,350 injuries and 36 deaths including child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers." *  "In Vancouver, that's 1775 crashes involving children aged 5-18 resulting in 570 injuries and no deaths." *

"That's why ICBC develops free curriculum for schools for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, with age-appropriate lessons on pedestrian and bike safety for the young and hard-hitting messages about the risks of driving impaired or distracted for teens."

"Each year, over 1,600 copies of our curriculum are ordered by teachers and about 50,000 students listen to an ICBC RoadSense speaker," Blacklock added. "The more exposure students get to road safety messages, the better the chance it will positively affect their behavior."

*(5 year average (2005-09) including child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers)


Here are ICBC's smart driving tips for drivers and parents to help keep kids safe.

Tips for parents and students:

Consider posting these safety tips somewhere in your home and review them with your kids-even older children need to be reminded about road safety.

  1. Remove your headphones; put away your phone, MP3 player or other gadgets when crossing a street. Focus your full attention on the road so you can see, hear and respond safely.
  2. Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both know you see each other. The most common road safety error made by kids is not finding a safe place to cross. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible.
  3. Dress to be seen. Wear bright or light coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.
  4. Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk-away from the road. This way, you're further away from the traffic. If there is no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers can see you.
  5. Be aware of parked vehicles in parking lots and on the road. Drivers may not see you between parked vehicles and you may not see them moving. Before crossing or walking through a parking lot, stop and look left-right-left around the parked vehicle and avoid taking unnecessary shortcuts through parking lots.


Tips for drivers:

When school is in session, a 30-km/h school zone speed limit is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every school day, unless otherwise posted. Also, remember that vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.

  1. Plan ahead and be alert. Driving routes with less traffic in the summer may now face congestion, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination.  Take your time and don't rush - especially through intersections.  Look for children especially near or around crosswalks and intersections.
  2. Always yield to pedestrians (it's the law).
  3. When dropping off children in a school zone stop and allow them to exit onto the sidewalk side of the car. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
  4. If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
  5. Always watch for pedestrians when you're backing up. Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to ensure no small kids are behind it. And remember, children will notice your driving behaviour, so set an example and drive smart.
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