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3 Basic Back-to-School Driving Tips to Keep Kids Safe

With Labour Day comes the end of summer and the start of fall. It’s a busy time of year as parents return summer holidays to work, and children go back to school. While we may be busy packing lunches for kids and getting them off to school, the roads become busier as well. As any car accident lawyer will tell you, there is a great risk of motor vehicle collisions when school starts.

As the fall season kicks off, thankfully, there are some ways to be proactive about the increased risk and stay safe.

Help Keep Kids Safe When They Cross the Street

While December, with its dark days and poor visibility is considered one of the most dangerous months of the year to drive, kids are at risk at any time of the year.

According to ICBC, 1,700 pedestrians are injured and 50 pedestrians are killed each year in BC. Across the Lower Mainland, on average three child pedestrians aged five to 18 are killed and 200 injured in 190 crashes every year.

In Vancouver alone, on average one child pedestrian aged five to 18 is killed and 40 are injured and in 38 crashes every year. It’s the kind of car accident no lawyer wants to hear about.

While some of these are motor vehicle collisions, other injuries and deaths occur when children are pedestrians, simply crossing the street.

ICBC has a detailed online map of the worst intersections for collisions involving pedestrians. Here’s what Coquitlam and several surrounding communities look like:

Collisions involving pedestrians in Coquitlam and surrounding communities. Image source: ICBC

So, as the roads get busy and children are returning to school, there will be greater chances for pedestrians to get involved in collisions. There are, however, steps motorists can take to help everyone stay safe.

Three General Rules for Avoiding Collisions

Generally speaking, there are three rules you can take as a motorist to avoid collisions and keep your commute safe:

1) Give yourself extra time

Increased traffic on the roads in September means it may take longer for you to get to your destination. Instead of stressing out and potentially driving unsafely, plan to leave the house ten minutes early to allow additional time to get to where you are going.

Knowing that you have plenty of time to get there could stop you from becoming involved in an accident.

2) Pay attention

Between passengers, music, and cell phones, becoming distracted while behind the wheel is easier now than ever before (any lawyer hoping to prevent a car accident will tell you using a device behind the wheel is now illegal). Looking down to see your recent text message could cause you to miss seeing the child who is walking across the street—causing you to hit him as a result.

Put your smartphone away—it’s the law, after all—stay focused, and pay attention to the road.

3) Avoid speeding

Most of us think it’s safe to travel ten or even twenty kilometers and hour over the posted speed limit.

However, driving too fast decreases your reaction time and prevents you from noticing potentially dangerous situations. When you drive the speed limit, you can keep yourself and those around you safe.

While ICBC has many more driving tips, simply slowing down, paying attention, and giving yourself extra time are a good start to driving more safely.

Keep In Mind…

As we all return to school this fall, keep in mind the following:

  • Every school day a 30-km/hr speed limit is in effect in marked school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • When you’re dropping off your children in school zones, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
  • If a vehicle’s stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
  • Watch for school buses. Vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.
  • Before getting into your vehicle, walk around your vehicle to make sure no small children are behind it. Always look for pedestrians when you’re backing up.