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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.

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