Back To School Pedestrian Safety

By Robert Kram | September 12, 2016

Another school year is among us. Although most parents call this “the most wonderful time of the year” it also makes our roads and walkways much more populated. The increase in road and walkway users means the need for an increase in safety awareness and regulations. Keep these rules in mind when you, your child, or a loved one is navigating the streets this school season.

For Parents, Children and Caregivers:

Many children walk or bike to school, but they’re often not aware of all the factors to watch out for. The best precaution to safety is to teach your children to be extra safe and aware of their surroundings when traveling to and from school.

Always walk on sidewalks when available: Avoid walking on roads wherever possible to reduce instances of encountering the dangers of motor vehicles.

Always cross at intersections: Not many people are aware, but there are rules regarding where pedestrians cross the road. If you cross the road mid-block, for example, it is not an offense. But if you attempt to cross the road within 30 metres of the designated intersection, laws do consider this an offense. To stay safe, always cross at an intersection when possible.

Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle: It’s crucial that children wear helmets when cycling to prevent serious injury. Keep in mind, helmet laws differ in each province; in Ontario, it is against the law for minors to not be wearing their helmet when on a bicycle.

In addition, children are allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalk to further prevent danger and increase safety. Note: Bicycleswith wheel diameters greater than 50 cm (20 inches) are not permitted to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk and must ride them on the side of the road or on a bike path.

Always walk your bicycle across a roadway: Drivers of motor vehicles are trained to be aware of pedestrians crossing at intersections and crosswalks, but not for the speed of cyclists. If you must cross a roadway, do so by safely getting off your bike, looking both ways, and walking your bike across the roadway to the other side.

For Drivers:

Being behind a steering wheel means owning the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle. With that, comes the reverse onus law. What does this mean for you as a driver? If you are in an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist, you must prove that the accident occurred without any negligence on your part. With school back in session, more children are walking and biking on our roads. Young children, especially, have limited experience with traffic and therefore lack the experience to navigate it properly. Keep your eyes and ears extra aware as school gears up and children are learning to get back into the routine of traveling to and from classes.

Be aware of school zone signage: It’s important to pay attention to signs around a school zone in order to understand what kind of crosswalk you are approaching and, most importantly, what speed you should be traveling. Note: As of January 1, 2016 drivers and cyclists are now required to yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossover, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard present.

Be ready to stop at all times: It’s very important to have tight reflexes and to pay close attention when around a school zone- you could be required to halt at any given time due to cyclists and children traveling the roads and making last minute movements.

Be patient: It’s a fact- the majority of accident cases we see occur because of inattentive drivers that are turning or going through intersections without paying close enough attention. It’s typical to be in a rush, especially during morning hours, but it is crucial to remain patient when driving so that you are able to take all the necessary precautions to stay safe.