It’s “back to school” time here in BC and while it may be an exciting time for parents who can take a bit of a breather from kid-proofing the home during summer break, it sets the table for another set of concerns, on the road.

Road safety awareness needs to be ramped up through school year, with ICBC sending notice at the onset of the season. As the province’s premier automobile insurance broker, we too feel a call to help educate drivers on how to ensure that the roads remain safe as parents and students navigate the 60 school districts of British Columbia. Please read the following with great care and help us protect our nation’s greatest asset.

5 Extra Road Safety Precautions to Take During the School Year

1. Take the School Zone Speed Limit (and Amendment) Seriously

You may have become accustomed to a lift on school zone speed limits in your area during summer break, and have developed a habit of driving through at the normal speed. You immediately need to take note of the reinstitution of the 30 km/hr school zone speed limit.

However, you may not be aware of the most recent Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure amendment to the BC Motor Vehicle Act which has expanded upon school speed zone times. The amendment provides that no speed zone can commence later than 8 AM or end sooner than 5 PM, but also allows districts to extend the hours during which the speed zone is in effect. Some schools require this because of adjusted class times and on-site extra-circular activities. This is accomplished through the indication of hours on school speed zone signs. Where there is no indicator, the 8 AM to 5 PM standard applies. Therefore, you need to inspect the school speed zone signs on your route and note any extension.

2. Watch Road Side Doors When Cars Are Parked in School Zones

Parents may instruct their children to exit the vehicle on the sidewalk side when being dropped off at school or soccer practice, but kids often forget. When driving passed a parked car in a school zone, watch for children exiting the vehicle on the road side. You won’t always see their silhouette ahead of time, especially when they are small.

3. Watch Out and Stop for School Buses

When you see a school bus on your route, proceed with extreme caution. Maintain the speed limit, drive defensively, and be sure to stop when their lights are flashing, an indicator that students are being picked up or dropped off.

4. Pay Attention to the Distracted Driving Epidemic

Accidents caused by distracted driving have reached epidemic proportions in BC. Given that it is a primary cause of motor vehicle accidents, injury, and death, you must take every possible step to help reduce the provincial statistics, especially during the school year. How do you accomplish this? Take note of the most common driver diversions in addition to unanticipated driver distractions and put an end to them all, today.

5. Consider Alternative Routes

You know yourself on the road. Take an honest accounting of whether or not you exhibit any of the characteristics of a bad driver. If you recognize your own traits in any of the descriptors, take steps to correct them. But until you do, consider taking an alternative route that avoids school zones. A different route may add a few extra minutes to your commute, or not, considering that you won’t have to abide by the 30 km/hr limit. Either way, the stakes are high and so erring on the side of caution by taking an alternative route could be the most educated decision you can make during the school year.

Park Insurance thanks you for helping make the roads a safer place for the cherished youth of our communities.