Driving safely into back-to-school season

As students head back to school and many people return to work, remember to share our roads safely and watch out for people working in the Cone Zone. 

Photo of school children crossing the road while cars are stopped.

Photo credit: istock.com/davit85

It’s that time of year again: Students are going back to school. And this year many people are returning to their offices after working from home.

If you need to drive through a school zone, or drop off kids in one, please keep these safety tips from ICBC in mind.

  • Observe school zone speeds
  • Obey crossing guards
  • Watch for children darting onto roads
  • Never pass a school bus when the signal lights are flashing

Also see the BCAA School Safety Patrol program to learn more about safety patrol equipment, student resources, and training materials. This free program helps keep crossing guards and pedestrians safe.

Watch out for cyclists on the road

The popularity of cycling seemed to soar during the pandemic and there are sure to be a lot of bikes on the road as we head back to school and work. As a driver, watch out for small, wobbly riders and give all cyclists the space they need to ride safely. ICBC offers cycling safety tips that include:

  • Leave 3 seconds of space when driving behind a cyclist
  • When passing, maintain at least one metre between your vehicle and the cyclist
  • Shoulder check when turning, and watch for oncoming bikes
  • Yield to cyclists and signal well in advance when crossing bike lanes
  • Shoulder check and view your mirrors before slowly opening your car door

Slow down, and move over

Mind any roadside workers when driving as well. They include traffic control, landscapers, tow truck drivers, and other workers on the road. Between 2011 and 2020 in B.C., 12 roadside workers were killed and 207 were injured. Last year, 23 workers were injured with time loss from work because of being hit by a motor vehicle.

The annual Cone Zone campaign reminds motorists to drive safely around roadside workers. The campaign features photos of individual workers and their kids with reminders like “Slow down. My dad works here.” (See my post Keeping workers safe in the cone zone for more information.)

B.C.’s “Slow Down, Move Over” law requires drivers to drop their speed and move over as soon as they see any vehicle with flashing red, blue, or amber lights, stopped alongside the road. These could include emergency vehicles (fire, police, and ambulance), tow trucks, garbage trucks, city work-crew vehicles, and rural postal delivery vehicles.

On a highway with a speed limit of 80 km/h or greater, you must slow to 70 km/h. If the speed limit is less than 80 km/h, drop to 40 km/h. Slowing down gives drivers more time to react if further defensive action is required. When safe to do so, move into an open lane to give more space.

Fines and penalties for unsafe driving

Drivers who don’t drive safely can expect to pay a price. ICBC lists the fines (often a minimum) and points for B.C. traffic offences. Some timely offences to keep in mind include:

  • Failing to stop for a school bus ($368; 3 points)
  • Disobeying a crossing guard ($167; 3 points)
  • Opening a vehicle door when it’s unsafe ($368; 2 points)
  • Disobeying construction signs ($196–253; 3 points)
  • Disobeying a flag person ($196; 3 points)
  • Failing to slow down or move over for official vehicle ($173; 3 points)

Keep these tips in mind and share them with your contacts — and let me know, in the comments, if you have tips of your own to share.


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