Reminder for Parents and Guardians

August 25, 2008

OTTAWA – Once again, the Canada Safety Council would like to remind parents and guardians to instil safety rules in their children in order to have them travel to and from school safely. Take the time to know the rules and educate your children about safe conduct when using and sharing roadways, whether it be by school bus, car, bicycle or by foot.

School Bus Travel

Research conducted by Transport Canada shows that school bus travel is one of the safest methods of transportation. It is 16 times safer than travelling in a family car per passenger/kilometre of travel. Although school buses have an excellent safety record, mishaps can happen. These mishaps can include instances where children are injured while riding on the bus. It is more common however, for injuries to be sustained once outside the bus, including being hit by their own school bus or other vehicles.

Parents and guardians should know that they are responsible for their children until they step on to the bus and immediately after they exit the bus. An adult should always be there to send off young passengers and to greet them, on the same side of the street where children exit the bus.

Here are some safety tips to share with children to ensure safe travel.

Outside of the school bus, children must:

Arrive at the designated bus stop 5 minutes before the scheduled pick up time. Do not wander off or get into mischief. If you miss the bus, go back home or if you are at school, report to a teacher. Never accept a ride from a stranger.Be seen in the dark on the way to and from the bus. Use retro-reflective tape or other methods to make sure you are clearly visible to motorists.Know to wait for the school bus well away from the roadway and stay back until the bus has come to a full stop and the door opens.Use the handrail when boarding or exiting the bus. When getting off the bus: take two large steps away from bus. If you must walk in front of the bus, walk ahead at least three metres (10 giant steps). The driver must be able to see you and will give a signal when it is safe to cross. Cross in a single file.Never pick up anything off the ground, outside of the bus. Tell the driver or an adult.Go straight home with no detours. You should know of a few places on the way home, which you can use in the event of an emergency.

Inside the school bus, children must:

Never run, push, shout, throw things or fight in or around the bus. Never stick anything out of the window, including arms or heads.Take their seats promptly and sit facing forward. Place knapsacks under the seat. Feet or knapsacks sticking out in the aisle can trip someone. Do not stand up until the bus has come to a full stop at the final destination.Talk quietly so that the driver can concentrate on driving.Save food for snack time at school or until you get home. There is a danger of choking and the driver may not be able to immediately help you in an emergency.

By Car:

Parents and guardians must respect their child’s school safety measures for dropping off and picking up their children at school. Every effort must be made to avoid collision and injury by refraining to create hazardous situations of traffic congestion and unsafe driving practices within the school zone. The possible remedies may include a one way traffic system in front of schools, enforcement of speed limits, a designated area for stop and go, a system of adult accompaniment to the school and a respect for protocol designed for signing students in and out.

By Bicycle:

To ride a bicycle to and from school, children must be mature enough (minimum 9 – 12 years old), and must have enough experience. The rider should be able to scan ahead and check behind without swerving. Transport Canada found that, in 2006, 59 children 9 – 14 years old who were riding bicycles were seriously injured in collisions. One 13 year-old and two 14 year-old bicyclists were killed in collisions.

To ensure safe cycling, young cyclists must:

Wear a properly-fitted helmet, and have clothes that are suited for cycling (e.g. their pants tucked in).Have their bikes fitted properly and in good working order. The bike should have a regular maintenance check-up and should have a bell. It is also a good idea to have a safety flag.Know and obey all traffic rules, signs and signals. They must signal turns and stops. They must ride in a straight line in the same direction as traffic and stop at every stop sign.Be predictable to other road users by riding with the traffic usually on the right hand side of the roadway.Never ride in the dark. If an older child must ride in the dark, make sure that reflective clothing and night-accessories (e.g. reflectors and lights) are used.

By Foot:

Many children use roadways to make their way to and from school. Parents and guardians must review road safety rules with their children and the importance of not accepting rides or any invitations from strangers. It is best to walk with a buddy and keep focused on getting straight home. Transport Canada found that, in 2006, a total of 180 pedestrian children, ages 5 – 14, were seriously injured and a total of 14 pedestrian children were killed in collisions.

To keep safe on roads, children pedestrians must:

Find a safe and direct route to school with the help of their parents. Hazards should be identified (train tracks, busy intersections, etc.) and a designated route with safety rules should be established.Stay on sidewalks whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, use the left side of the road facing traffic.Cross streets only at corners and learn to look to the left, the right and then left again before proceeding, even at intersections with pedestrian walk signs. Vehicles have been known to drive through red lights, so children must be made aware of that danger and learn to wait until traffic comes to a stop. Special attention must also be given to the danger of vehicles turning on red lights.Respect and obey the directions of crossing guards.

Prevention is the key to safety. With education and awareness, all children should be able to get safely to school and home again. Take the time to share these valuable rules and tips with your children.

Source: Transport Canada Road Safety’s National Collision Data Base

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