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Watch for kids and buses with back-to-school just around the corner

Drivers will have to get used to navigating through school year conditions again, with September only a couple of days away.

ICBC Roads Safety Coordinator Rowena Narayan says drivers need to pay extra attention to avoid adding to an already high statistic.

“On Vancouver Island, two children walking or cycling are killed and 47 are injured in crashes every year. In school and playground zones, seven children are injured in crashes every year,” she says. “Those numbers are far too high. We can do a better job being focused on the road.”

That number is even higher across the province, with three children killed and 359 injured in crashes while walking or cycling every year, including 51 in school and playground zones. Keeping your focus outside of the vehicle is key to preventing those injuries.

“Distractions are a leading factor for drivers in crashes with pedestrians and cyclists,” she says. “So definitely leave your phone alone.”

It’s not just more kids around the roads, but also the vehicles they take to get to school. Narayan says it’s imperative that drivers in both directions stop when the lights are flashing on those big yellow buses.

“Keeping our eyes out for school buses, especially when their lights are flashing, is extremely important,” she says. “It’s something that we haven’t been used to over the summer.”

As of Tuesday, school zone speed limits will also return at 30 km/hour, instead of the regular limit of 50 km/h. They’re in effect at school zones from 8 am to 5 pm and in playground zones from dawn until dusk.

“School zones are something that we weren’t paying much attention to in the summer,” she says. “Being focused, knowing your route, where do those 30 zones start and where do they end is very important.”

ICBC released a list of tips to be aware of as the season changes:

  • Every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In playground zones, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk.
  • Leave your phone alone, and watch for children walking or cycling. Distracted and inattentive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists.
  • If a vehicle stops in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.
  • Watch for school buses. When their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.
  • Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure there are no small children hidden from view. Always look for pedestrians when backing up.
  • Make sure your headlights, brake and turn indicator lights are clear, visible and in good working condition at all times. This can help pedestrians see you better.
  • In residential areas, a ball or hockey net may mean that kids are playing nearby. Slow down and watch for children as they could dash into the street at any moment.
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