According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, 16,000 school buses transport over 800,000 students every day. School bus travel is considered very safe, but did you know the majority of injuries and fatalities occur outside buses. It is important for drivers to practice safe driving around school zones and school buses; both to keep children safe and keep a driver’s car insurance premium low.
Couple points from MTO all drivers should consider:
- Drivers must stop for a school bus with red lights flashing.
- Fines for not stopping can range up to $2,000, and a first offence will carry six demerit points.
- A second conviction within five years will result in a fine of up to $4,000, plus six demerit points. You may also be jailed for up to six months.
- School-bus drivers, along with other witnesses, can report vehicles that have illegally passed a school bus. If your car is reported, you could be subject to fines (but no demerit points or jail time).
When to Stop for a School Bus
Ontario drivers are subject to strict laws around school zones and buses. Here are some general rules to keep in mind when driving:
- On the road WITHOUT a median strip, drivers travelling in both directions must stop for a school bus stopped when both its upper red lights are flashing. When stopped, drivers travelling in the opposite direction are required to stop at what the driver considers a safe distance for students to cross the road
- Where there a road has a median strip, only vehicles following the bus are required to stop
- When stopping behind a bus, you must allow a minimum of 20 meters of space from the bus.
- Drivers must stop for a school bus at any time, not just during school hours.
Obey School Crossing Guards
Many school zones have crossing guards at crosswalks. Ontario drivers are required to obey a crossing guard’s instructions to stop. When a guard displays a stop sign, you MUST remain stopped until everyone, including the guard, is safely off the roadway.
Slow Down in School Zones
In most Ontario school zones, the speed limit is 40km/hr. Bear in mind that some areas may have lower speed limits. Some municipalities like Toronto have installed photo radar to help in force these speed limits.
Familiarize Yourself with School Pick-Up Procedures
When the bell goes off, children anxious to get home may not be as mindful of safety, so drivers need to take extra care. Follow the rules at your school on where to park and pick up. Drive slowly, with extra care avoiding unnecessary risks.
Be a Safe and Responsible Driver
With so many distractions during the back-to-school season, especially with the added stress of COVID-19, give you and your children extra time by leaving a little earlier. A few additional minutes to reduce the stress of driving could go a long way to make your children’s commute to school more enjoyable and safer for all.
Keep Your Insurance Premiums Low
Not following school zone driving laws will cost you in fines, but also in high auto insurance premiums with possibly fewer companies to choose from and less coverage option. The best advice is to follow the rules of the road, especially around school buses and school zones. Avoiding tickets and accidents is the best way to keep your car insurance rates low.
At isure, we will make sure you have the right insurance protection if something happens, but we cannot undo a car accident, especially if someone is hurt or worse.
Kids are excited to be back at school, so let’s keep them safe!