Back to school: 5 things to teach your kids about traffic safety

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If back-to-school season gives you visions of backpacks, hectic drop-offs, pick-ups, and traffic jams, you’re not alone. While your kids are likely counting the days until they can see their friends and play in the schoolyard, you’re likely worried about all the what-ifs of this uncertain school season. 

Among those concerns may be getting them to and from school safely. While going back may look a bit different this year due to the pandemic, you know that the same road dangers remain. 

Here are 5 tips for talking to your kids about staying safe when they go back to school.

    1. Scan for signs
      Remind your kids where to look for stop, go, and countdown signals at intersections and what the colours mean (green, red, and yellow). This includes traffic lights and crossing signals.

    2. Stop. Look. Listen. Cross.
      Whether walking to the bus stop or heading to school on foot, remind them to stop when they approach an intersection or crosswalk, look for traffic signals and ensure that vehicles have stopped, listen for approaching emergency vehicles (this means no ear buds while crossing the street), and crossing in accordance with the Ministry of Transportation’s road safety laws. Note that children six and younger should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing the street.

    3. Pick a pedestrian crossing
      Traffic can move quickly in areas that do not have a designated pedestrian crosswalk. Teach your kids to look out for a crosswalk marked with a painted crossing on the pavements and blinking orange lights to signal to drivers that someone is crossing. And, remember to ask them to look both ways to ensure that traffic has stopped for them

and point as they cross for added visibility. Children should never cross the street in areas without an established crosswalk for pedestrians.

Many busy crosswalks across the GTA are staffed by Crosswalk Safety Ambassadors, a select group of individuals dedicated to ensuring the safe passage of members of their community across our busy roadways. Their presence helps to ensure that your child gets to and from school safely — and they’re always ready to help them cross with a smile.

 

4. Get out curb-side
When they arrive at school, kids are often excited to meet up with their friends. Remind them to stay curb-side when exiting the bus or car. This will ensure that they remain safe on the sidewalk and will avoid a dangerous and unexpected roadway obstruction for drivers. 

 

5. Be seen. Stay safe.
Telling your kids what to wear can be an uphill battle, but remember to tell them why it matters. Wearing bright coloured clothing during the day and light coloured apparel at night helps drivers to see them better. Adding reflective stickers or tape to their clothing or backpack is another way to help them stay seen. And, encourage them to make eye contact with drivers and wave as they cross the street for added assurance that they’ll be seen.

By teaching your kids the tips above, you’re helping The City of Toronto in its action plan, Vision Zero — Toronto’s first road safety plan dedicated to helping pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers travel safely. 

Aligned with the city’s mission to reduce injuries and deaths on our roadways, Carraway Safety — trusted providers of the Crosswalk Safety Ambassador program — is dedicated to ensuring the safe passage of kids and community members across our city streets. 

For more information about the City of Toronto’s Crosswalk Safety Ambassador program and where you’ll find a Carraway crossing guard, visit www.carraway.ca/carraway-safety.