School’s out – ICBC’s top tips for keeping kids safe

June, 2010 – As the end of the school year approaches, ICBC is reminding drivers and parents about the importance of keeping kids safe during the last week of school and throughout the summer months.

Kids will be excited and may not be thinking about their personal safety so drivers need to be extra cautious in looking for child pedestrians during the summer. Parents should take the opportunity to remind their children about staying safe on the roads.

In 2009, according to ICBC, there were approximately 55 pedestrians, age 5 to 12, injured in 55 incidents in B.C. This means that most incidents result in a child being injured.

Here are ICBC’s top tips for drivers and parents:

Tips for drivers:

No. 1 – It’s all mixed up: During the last few days of school, kids may be arriving or leaving school at varying times throughout the day. Remember that when school is in session, a 30-km/h school zone speed limit is in effect between 8 am and 5 pm. During the summer months, school zone speed limits change unless summer school is in session.

No. 2 – In the zone: The last week of school is an exciting time for school-aged children, which means that they might be preoccupied and forget the rules of the road. Use extra caution when driving through and around school zones.

No. 3 – Kids all around: Drivers aren’t used to seeing crowded playgrounds and parks during the day but this all changes as we welcome in summer. Remember that playground speed limits remain in effect year-round. When driving around playgrounds and parks, observe carefully – small children are less predictable and harder to see than adults.

No. 4 – Watch for clues: In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Remember that a child could dash into the street at any moment. Pay attention and always anticipate the unexpected.

No. 5 – Back it up: Always watch for children as you’re backing up. Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to make sure no small kids are behind it. Although they may see you, they most likely don’t realize that you don’t see them.

Tips for parents:

No. 1 – Focus on the basics: With all of summer’s outdoor activities, it’s important that parents remind their children about road safety. Give them a refresher on the safety basics that you learned as a child, which are still relevant today. Here are some key points…

  • Make eye contact: Children must assume that drivers have not seen them whenever they are around roads. Even if the walk signal is on, teach your child to make eye contact with drivers before they cross.
  • Walk, don’t run: Make it clear to your kids that it’s never safe to run when crossing a road.
  • Stop, look, listen: Before crossing the street, always stop at the curb and make sure all vehicles have stopped. Look left and right for oncoming vehicles. Then lookagain over your shoulders for vehicles that might be turning. Listen for approaching traffic that you can’t yet see. Teach your kids to keep looking for approaching vehicles as they cross.

No. 2 – Be a role model: Parents are the number one role models for children so make sure you set a perfect example for them. If you are not modelling the behaviour you want your kids to emulate, then don’t expect them to be safe around roads. If your child sees you jaywalking, they will think it is okay to do and will do the same thing.

No. 3 – Mark out safe areas: Focus on teaching your kids where to position themselves when they are around roads. Children should always walk on the inside edge of a sidewalk so that they’re less exposed to traffic. If walking on the sidewalk isn’t an option, teach your kids to always walk facing oncoming traffic so they can see approaching vehicles and make eye contact with drivers.

No. 4 – Don’t jaywalk. The most common road safety error made by kids is not finding a safe place to cross. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible.

No. 5 – No shortcuts: When walking with your child, avoid unnecessary shortcuts like walking through a parking lot. Be aware of parked vehicles in a parking lot or on the road. A driver may not see kids between parked cars and kids may not see the cars moving.

For more safety tips, go to roadsafety.

About ICBC

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists.