Three children wait to walk onto the school bus, showing why drivers need to drive safe during back-to-school season

Summer adventures are coming to an end and kids across the country are getting ready for the new school year ahead — and so are all the bus drivers and child chauffeurs (a.k.a. parents). When you hit the road on the first day of school (and all the days after that), keep these tips in mind for a safe ride:

  1. Check your speed in school zones. Whenever you're driving near a school, be aware of posted school zone speed limits, as a speeding ticket in these zones may lead to hefty fines and demerit points. School zone speed limits exist to make sure children and other pedestrians make it to school safely. Some municipalities enforce school zone limits even when signs are not present, so be sure to learn your local laws. Your municipality may also use speed cameras in school zones as an extra safety measure, so keep an eye out for speed camera signs and always obey posted speed limits.
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for children on or near the road. Kids move quickly and aren't always as mindful about traffic as we might like them to be, so keep an eye out for children who are waiting to cross the street, getting out of cars, or riding their bikes. Neighborhood streets can become very busy before and after school, with many cars parked on either side of the road, so always watch for kids who may try to cross the street between parked cars. Drive slowly and be prepared to stop suddenly if need be.
  3. Watch for crossing guards at intersections and roundabouts. When you see a crossing guard start to cross the road (usually with a brightly coloured vest and stop sign in tow), come to a complete stop to allow children to cross safely. If your neighborhood has roundabouts, always keep an eye out for children waiting at the pedestrian crosswalk with a crossing guard, as they have right-of-way to cross before you enter or exit the roundabout. Proceed with caution once the crossing guard returns to the sidewalk and lowers the stop sign.
  4. Stop for school buses. When you see a school bus, keep a safe distance behind it and prepare for frequent stops. No matter what side of the road you're on, stop as soon as the bus's red lights start flashing or the stop sign swings out to the side, and don't hit the gas until the lights are off and the driver moves the stop sign back to its original position. If you're behind the bus, always stop at least 20 metres from the back of the bus to give the students boarding or leaving the bus some space. Watch for stragglers as you carefully pick up speed once it's safe to proceed.

    The drive to and from school can be hectic! Always follow posted school zone speed limits, stop for buses picking up and dropping off kids, and don't drive distracted to help keep your community safe this school year.

  5. Be a good role model for your own kids. Set a good example for your kids when driving them to school, friends' houses, sports games, and everywhere in between. Take your time to get from point A to point B, follow the rules of the road, and don't drive aggressively. Last but not least, don't drive distracted. Not only is distracted driving dangerous, but if your kids see you doing it, they may think it's okay to do the same when they learn to drive.

Did you know that many insurance companies reward safe drivers with extra discounts? If it's been a while since you've reviewed your car insurance policy, ask your group's licensed broker if you're eligible for any of the top 10 car insurance discounts.

Want to remind others in your community to drive safe in the school zone this season? Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter.