Back to School – A Few Reminders

With school back in for the fall, there are thousands of children out and about in our neighbourhoods, many navigating the roads for the first time. Here are a few reminders for how to keep everyone safe and sound this back-to-school season:


  • Keep those electronics out of sight — headphones and screens are huge distractions that can make children (and parents) less aware of their surroundings.
  • Show kids where safe crossings are, how to activate crossing signals, and to vigilantly check for traffic before stepping into the street.
  • See out intersections staffed by crossing guards, and always follow the crossing guard’s directions.

Bike riding

  • Helmets are the law for kids under 18 (and parents should model this behaviour for their children). Show kids the proper way to adjust and position the helmet, too. Helmets only properly protect when they are properly worn.
  • Make sure your kids know and follow the rules of the road (Ontario’s Young Cyclist Guide is a great resource).
  • There are other legal requirements for bikes, including lights/reflectors, a bell or horn, and reflective tape – these requirements are also described in the Young Cyclist Guide.

School buses & drop-offs

  • Drivers must stop when approaching (from either direction) a school bus that is flashing its red lights and has its stop arm extended.  On a road with a median, traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop.
  • Never stop in traffic and have your children jump out. Always stop in a safe and allowable place, and make sure it is safe for your child to exit (checking for nearby people, bikes, or drivers before opening the door).

Crosswalks & crossovers

  • Earlier this year, the province introduced new laws related to crosswalks and crossovers (which are crosswalks with flashing overhead lights and push buttons). When approaching a crossover, the driver must come to a complete stop and yield the entire crossover to pedestrians in the crossover until the pedestrian is completely off the roadway. The law also applies to cars approaching school crossings where there is a crossing guard holding a stop sign. In that case, drivers and cyclists must stop and wait until the pedestrians and crossing guards are completely off the roadway before proceeding.

School zones and Community Safety Zones

  • Every city treats speed limits in school zones a little differently; make sure you know what the laws are in your community — i.e., what the limit is, and what hours the limits are in effect.
  • Community Safety Zones are another tool to reduce speed in areas where children are often present, such as schools, playgrounds, and daycares. In these areas, the existing speed limit applies, but traffic violations will results in increased penalties — often, double the amount of a regular violation ticket.

School should be a safe place for kids – let’s make sure everyone makes it there without harm.