Getting to School Safely

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CAA’s tips to keep children safe on their way to school, however they go - by car, bus, or walking.



Woman looking in rearview mirror while driving

Driving your kids to school

Drivers must wait until pedestrian and crossing guards are safely on the sidewalk before driving on.

  • Obey speed limits.
  • Drivers should wait until pedestrians and crossing guards are safely on the sidewalk before driving on.
  • Don’t drop off and pick up your kids on the opposite side of the street.
  • Keep an eye out for children darting out from between parked cars.

Walking your kids to school

Gadgets can be distracting. Put them in backpacks or leave them at home.

  • Gadgets can be distracting. Put them in backpacks or leave them at home.
  • Decide on a route to school together. Parents be sure to point out crosswalks, stop signs, and family or friends’ homes.
  • Stay alert when walking and crossing the street.
  • Buddy up with a sibling or friend for a safer and more enjoyable walk to school.
Parent holding child's hand
Back of school bus

Sharing the road with school buses

Over 3.4 million students ride a bus every day in Canada.

  • Drivers in all directions must stop when they see red lights flashing on a school bus.
  • Not stopping for a school bus is extremely dangerous and carries a hefty fine.
  • Watch for children crossing the road after they disembark from school buses.

How parents can make school drop-offs a breeze

Smooth drop-offs start with stress-free mornings. Learn how to achieve both this school year with these practical tips.

Try DIY breakfast. Reduce time in the morning by simplifying breakfast. Set out some plates and cereal, chopped fruit, bread, cheese and yogurt to let the kids serve themselves, or keep these items on lower shelves in the fridge so little ones can access everything they need.

Start a launch pad. Organizing experts say having a designated spot in your entryway for things like the kids’ lunch boxes, backpacks, textbooks, permission slips and coats is a great way to keep things tidy and to make sure no one forgets anything. The launch pad can be a basket, bench or other container, and it helps if each child has their own.

Plan your route. School zones are becoming more dangerous. According to a recent CAA survey, the top two hazardous driving behaviours that motorists perform in a school zone are speeding and distracted driving. For a smoother morning, try parking a couple of blocks away and walking the rest of the way with your children. You and your kids will also get an extra dose of exercise. Help reduce traffic by finding alternative ways to school. Plan a safe route to walk or bike.

Follow the rules while behind the wheel. Slowing down and giving yourself more time is the best way to keep school zones safe when dropping off your child.  Avoid texting and other activities that can distract you while driving. Check with your child’s school administrator regarding designated drop off and pickup areas.  Follow the signs posted in school zones, including speed limits.  Watch for CAA School Safety Patrollers, one of the largest youth volunteer programs in Canada.  They help their peers get to school safely in many parts of the country.

Curb your distracted driving with these tips

Did you know that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near collision than non-distracted drivers?

Distracted driving and other unsafe behaviours behind the wheel are a hazard year-round, but become more dangerous when kids are in school. In a recent CAA survey, parents with young kids reported they have seen an increase in unsafe driving practices in school zones. Help keep everyone safe with these easy ways to avoid distracted driving.

Have time on your side. The number one thing we can all do to be safer is give ourselves enough travel time to get to our destination so we don’t have to rush. Time is your friend, so try to do what you can to give yourself some extra minutes — whether it’s waking up a bit earlier, planning out a more efficient route, or getting some tasks done the night before.

Plan ahead. Set the GPS and review all maps and directions before heading out. If you’re unsure about where you’re going, google directions or call for instructions while you’re still in the driveway. It can be tempting to do this while you’re moving, but even hands-free calls have been linked to higher crash and near-collision rates.

Before driving. Make sure the kids are in their car seats or buckled up, and have any items they might need in reach, including something to drink or play with. Stow and secure loose objects like your bag and cell phone so you’re not adjusting them if they shift while you’re driving. Do daily tasks like makeup, shaving, and drinking your coffee before you leave home.

While driving. Remember that distracted driving is any activity that lessens your focus on the road. Let your calls go to voicemail and don’t text, use apps or read emails. Checking a text for only five seconds means that at 90 kilometres per hour, you’ve travelled the length of a football field blindfolded. Finally, keep an eye out for student volunteers in the CAA School Safety Patrol.

Learn school zone safety to save lives

Did you know that parents are seeing an increase in unsafe driving practices in school zones over the last few years? A recent survey by CAA shows behaviour from parents and motorists that causes concern, like distracted driving and speeding.

With the start of the new academic year, we can all work to make learning safer for students. Whether you have a child going to school, or drive by a school zone on your way to work, here are some ways you can help make the roads safer.

Slow down. Giving yourself more time at pick up and drop off, and following school rules for these procedures are the top things parents can do to increase safety. Leave a bit earlier to give yourself plenty of travel time to avoid rushing and making dangerous moves just to get to school before the bell rings. Remember to slow down when driving through school zones and watch for children trying to cross.

Get organized. Many of us end up speeding because we’re late to get to where we’re going. While leaving early is a great way to curb this, you can also give yourself more time by doing some of the morning chores the night before such as: picking out your kids’ outfits, packing lunches for everyone and making sure any last-minute items like umbrellas or jackets are easily on-hand at the door. These suggestions can help make your morning smoother.

Listen to safety helpers. The CAA School Safety Patrol is made up of thousands of student volunteers in various communities across the country who help their peers get to school safely. All safety patrollers wear bright vests designed with safety and visibility in mind.

Follow speed limits. School zone speed limits can vary by location and time of year, so drivers should learn the rules for their community to help keep the roads safe. Schools and community centres are hubs of activity where kids are out playing even after school, during summer vacation and other school breaks, and on the weekends.

Avoid dangerous and illegal driving. Anything that takes your focus away from the road counts as distracted driving. Texting is especially risky, as drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be in a crash or near-collision event. While driving, do not text, use apps or read emails. Avoid eating and drinking when you’re behind the wheel.

Teach your kids a safer commute to school

Every September brings textbooks, homework, new friends and…road rage? Parents with young children are reporting an increase in unsafe driving practices in school zones, according to a recent survey by CAA. The top two dangerous driving behaviours that motorists are guilty of in school zones are speeding and distracted driving.

While there are lots of things drivers can do to make mornings and after school safer for students, it’s also important to prepare your kids and arm them with advice to keep them safe. Here’s some information you can share with them to help create a safer commute.

Make time. If your kids are biking, walking or wheeling to school alone, help them get organized the night before and ensure they have time in the morning for a leisurely journey. Rushing means making quick and sometimes potentially unsafe decisions.

Ask your kids for help. The number one thing parents can do to be safer is give themselves more time to drop off their kids — but they can’t do it alone. Ask your children to help you get them to school on time by preparing their backpacks the night before, lending a hand at breakfast and generally supporting the goal of getting out the door sooner.

Get the right gear. If your kids walk to school, make sure they have comfortable shoes with good traction. If they bike, a well-fitting helmet is a must, as is learning your community’s bylaws for cyclists. Also make sure your children know how to signal their intentions for turning and know to make eye contact with motorists when crossing.

Be a great bus passenger. Almost a third of Canadian students ride a school bus or vehicle. They can help their bus driver give them a safer ride to school by being on time for pick-ups, waiting in a safe place that’s well back from the edge of the road, crossing in front of the bus and never behind, keeping their voices down in the vehicle, and staying seated facing forward at all times. If driving in a personal or commercial vehicle, make sure the seat belts are working and are being worn.

Follow safety instructions. The CAA School Safety Patrol program has 70,000 student volunteers across the country who help ensure their peers get to school safely. As one of the largest youth volunteer programs, they help play an important role in school zone safety in many areas of the country.  Keep a lookout for their bright safety vests.