The kids might be heading back to school, but according to a recent CBC article, many bus drivers and crossing guards aren’t returning with them. 

Northwestern Ontario is currently facing a staffing shortage. In Thunder Bay, for example, six locations don’t have crossing guards, and several bus routes were cancelled due to a lack of bus drivers. 

So, what does this mean for drivers? While some parents will have to navigate school pick-ups and drop-offs, everyone on the road should take the time to refresh themselves on the rules relating to school zones and intersections. With fewer resources available to help get kids to school, Ontarians need to be especially cautious and take the time to educate themselves (and their children) about the rules of the road. 

Back to School Safety in School Zones in Ontario

School zones are designated zones near schools where children are expected. A five-sided fluorescent yellow sign identifies them with two people crossing the road. 

The speed limit in a school zone is 30-40km/hr. This speed limit is enforced between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM on weekdays while school is in session (September-June). However, it’s important to always drive with care in these areas since children may be present after hours. 

In addition, keep your eyes peeled for Community Safety Zones – they are clearly marked with signs and are often found by elementary and high school schools. In these areas, fines for offences are doubled. 

What Are the Fines for School Zones and Community Safety Zones in Ontario? 

The fines for speeding in a school zone depend on how fast you are driving, as follows: 

  • 10 km/h over the posted speed limit: $95.00. 
  • 20 km/h over the posted speed limit: $180.00 and three demerit points. 
  • 30 km/h over the posted speed limit: $450.00 and four demerit points. 
  • 40 km/h over the posted speed limit: $595.00 and four demerit points

Remember that you may face increased fines if you are a repeat offender and may face other charges. Your fine will also be doubled if you are speeding in a Community Safety Zone. 

Back to School Safety in School Crossings in Ontario

School crossings are any pedestrian crossings with a school crossing guard or a school crossing stop sign. Unlike a regular crosswalk, where drivers can drive through if no pedestrians are present, drivers are required to stop and yield when a school crossing guard is present. 

What Are the Fines for School Crossings and Community Safety Zones in Ontario? 

The fines for failing to follow the rules around school crossings and Community Safety Zones are serious. If you fail to yield at a school crossing, you can expect a fine of up to $1,000 and four demerit points if the offence occurs in a Community Safety Zone, the fine doubles. 

Safety Tips for Driving in School Zones and Crossings 

Respecting school crossings isn’t just the law – it’s the right thing to do! Here are some tips for staying safe and avoiding accidents in school zones:

  • Pay attention to the posted speed limit. 
  • Be especially cautious when driving through school zones and Community Safety Zones, even if school isn’t in session. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings when driving through school zones or approaching school crossings – children are not always predictable, so drive accordingly. 
  • Be patient at school crossings. Yield and wait for the crossing guard to direct you. Remember that children may need more time to cross the road. 
  • Study the rules regarding school zones and crossings. For instance, the following page from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation provides a great overview of the rules regarding pedestrian crossings (including school crossings): Driving near pedestrian crossovers and school crossings

Teaching Your Kids about Back-to-School Safety

A crucial but often overlooked element of school zone and crossing safety is ensuring that your children follow the rules, too! Here are some tips to ensure your children understand the rules of the road and can get themselves to and from school safely: 

  • Talk to your children about safety. Make sure they understand how they should behave as pedestrians (e.g., no running or biking on the road, following crossing guard directions). 
  • Teach your child to stop, look, and listen. Any time a child is crossing a road, they should stop at the curb, look both ways, and listen for oncoming traffic (including bikes). They should also avoid listening to music or using other distractions that take away from their awareness while walking. 
  • Make sure your child understands the route they take to and from school. 
  • Consider whether your child is old enough to walk to school on their own. If you have determined that they are old enough and understand the rules of the road, suggest that your child find a walking or biking buddy. 

Back-to-school can be a difficult time for children and parents alike, but it doesn’t have to be scary! Adequately preparing your children to get themselves to and from school safely can go a long way toward minimizing back-to-school jitters. 

Other Back-to-School Safety Considerations

Back-to-school driving safety doesn’t end once you’re out of a school zone – remember that school buses are also back on the road. We’ve written previously on safety tips when driving near school buses, and you should make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules relating to them. For example, failing to stop when a school bus has its overhead red signal lights flashing can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and six demerit points (or even jail time if you’re a repeat offender). 

Keep in mind that children may be biking to and from school. Drivers can pose a serious threat to cyclists if they fail to observe the rules around road safety – especially when they are children. Always give cyclists plenty of room on the road and exercise extreme caution when parking or opening your car door (for example, if you’re dropping your kids off at school!). For more information on road rules, you can also review our post on road safety tips for Ontario drivers and cyclists. 

Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay

School zones and crossings are an area where drivers should be especially cautious, as accidents in these areas can be disastrous. Suppose you or someone you love has been injured in a school zone or crossing. In that case, our experienced personal injury lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP will work tirelessly to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you are involved in an accident – whether as a passenger, driver, or pedestrian – we have the experience and skills to tackle the legal aspects of your claim and allow you to focus on your recovery. 

We recognize that no two claims are the same, so we give each client the personalized attention needed to bring the best possible resolution. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers

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