ICBC’s drive smart tips for back to school

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October, 2010 – As a new school year begins, ICBC and police throughout the province are asking drivers to make smart decisions: plan ahead, drive with extra caution and watch out for children. Every year in B.C., there’s an average of 16,655 crashes, 5350 injuries and 36 deaths involving children.*

“The most important thing to remember is that these crashes are preventable, which means we can all play a role in making our roads safer,” said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s director of road safety.

“Back to school is an exciting time for kids,” adds Jimenez. “As parents, we can help by reviewing our kids’ daily routes, the rules of the road and how they can make smart decisions.”

Jamie Chung, RCMP media relations officer agrees, “We really need drivers to do their part, slow down and watch out for kids. Police will be out in full force, monitoring the 30 km/h school zones throughout the province to make sure that kids get off to a safe start this school year.”

Drivers should also be aware that starting Sept. 20, new changes to the Motor Vehicle Act will trigger a seven day impoundment of their vehicle if they are caught speeding 40 km or more over the posted speed limit.

Teachers have also been contributing to road safety awareness – last year more than 1,600 teachers in B.C. ordered ICBC’s free school-based curriculum materials for students in kindergarten to grade 12. ICBC has invested in road safety education for the past 30 years, and this year all school materials have been updated.

“We’re excited about the new materials – teachers can order these free materials which provide age-appropriate, fun and interactive road safety lessons,” said Jimenez. “We focus on pedestrian and bike safety for children and incorporate more hard-hitting messages about the risks of impaired or distracted driving for teens.”

In addition, ICBC has designed a new youth contest, “YOUR AD HERE”, enabling high school students and schools to get involved by designing a road safety ad to be featured on next year’s high school agendas.

Here are ICBC’s smart driving tips for drivers and parents:

Tips for parents and students

Consider posting these safety tips somewhere in your home and review them with your kids – even older children need to be reminded about road safety.

No. 1: Remove your headphones; put away your phone, MP3 player or other gadgets when crossing a street. Focus your full attention on the road so you can see, hear and respond safely.

No. 2: Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both know you see each other. 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. 3: Dress to be seen. Wear bright or light coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.

No. 4: Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk – away from the road. This way, you’re further away from the traffic. If there is no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers can see you.

No. 5: Be aware of parked vehicles in parking lots and on the road. Drivers may not see you between parked vehicles and you may not see them moving. Before crossing or walking through a parking lot, stop and look left-right-left around the parked vehicle and avoid taking unnecessary shortcuts through parking lots.

Tips for drivers

When school is in session, a 30 km/h school zone speed limit is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every school day, unless otherwise posted. Also, remember that vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.

No. 1: Plan ahead and be alert. Driving routes with less traffic in the summer may now face congestion, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Take your time and don’t rush – especially through intersections. Look for children especially near or around crosswalks and intersections.

No. 2: Always yield to pedestrians – it’s the law.

No. 3: When dropping off children in a school zone, stop and allow them to exit on the side of the car closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.

No. 4: If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.

No. 5: Always watch for pedestrians when you’re backing up. Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to ensure no small kids are behind it. And remember, children notice your driving behaviour, so set an example and drive smart.

For more road safety tips, visit www.icbc.com/road-safety.

For more information about YOUR AD HERE contest, please visit www.icbc.com/youradhere/ and to order free ICBC road safety curriculum, please go to www.icbc.com/4teachers.

*Annual crash and injury averages based on 2005 to 2009 data. Annual fatal average based on 2004 to 2008 data. Data includes child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers.

At ICBC, we have more than 5,000 employees committed to our 3.1 million customers and their safety on the road. We license and insure drivers and vehicles across the province through our service centres, plus a network of more than 900 independent brokers and government agent offices. Claims customers are served through local offices and our award-winning Dial-a-Claim call centre. We add value to B.C. communities – our road safety investments help create safer roads, lead to fewer crashes, and help keep our rates stable.

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. www.icbc.com.