Back to School Driving Tips
It’s that time of the year again! This week marks the first week back for many students – whether it be to college, university, high school or elementary school. Together with many other Ontarians, we are getting back to work or school and our regular routines, which is why it is very important to remind ourselves about some safe driving tips.
Stop for School Buses
School buses are back on the road, which means there are specific rules that motorists must follow. In Ontario, motorists approaching a school bus with its upper red lights flashing must stop. This applies to vehicles travelling in both directions and does not depend on the type of roadway in question, the speed limit or the number of lanes on the roadway. Motorists are permitted to move only after the STOP arm has been folded away and the red lights have stopped flashing. There is only one exception to this rule: if the roadway is separated by a median, then traffic coming from the opposite direction does not need to stop.
Remember to reduce your speed in school zones and be on the lookout for school crossings. The anticipation of the new school year means that most students are a little excited and distracted. In addition, speed limits may be reduced in the immediate area surrounding a school on days when students are in class.
Effective September 1, 2015, there are new restrictions and rules on using a handheld device while driving. In Ontario, drivers caught looking at or using their phones (including texting, emailing or talking without a hands-free device) face an increased fine of $490 and three demerit points. Drivers with a G1 or G2 licence may even have their permit suspended for a minimum of 30 days on the spot. In addition to using a handheld device, there are many other tasks which can cause drivers to become distracted. Eating, drinking, adjusting the stereo and even talking with other passengers in the car are some examples. Try to minimize these behaviours and focus your full attention on the roadway at all times.
Keeping these safety tips in mind and remembering the rules will help keep all of us safe this school year.