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Share These Back-to-School Road Safety Tips with Your Kids

If your kids will be walking or biking to school this year, now is a good time to have a talk about safety

Kids ride their bikes on a path outdoors

Once again, back-to-school season is here and it's going to feel very different than what kids have experienced in the past. While parents and schools continue to prioritize the health and safety of children inside school premises, it's also important that they continue to focus on safety outside those doors.

As the excitement of going back to school grows, it's a great time to discuss cycling and pedestrian safety with your kids.

Safety Begins at Home

Whether heading to school on foot or bike, students need to be mindful of the rules that keep us all safe, says P.C. De Quintal with Toronto Police Service.

While nurturing your child’s independence is essential to their growth, encouraging them to be advocates for their own wellbeing is equally important. “If you can walk your kids to school, it’s better than driving them,” he says, explaining that it can help them understand their neighborhood and learn the route. If they should ever get lost, they would then have the knowledge to get them home safe and sound.

Heed the Rules of the Road

Parents should also ensure that their kids understand basic traffic lights and road signs. According to Parachute, a Canadian national charity dedicated to injury prevention, pedestrian injuries are one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths for children 14 years of age and younger.

Knowing when and how to cross the road and to be aware of one’s surroundings are essential. Looking left and right before stepping into the street is a rule that never gets old because it can save lives in its very simplicity.

Make sure to teach your kids to obey traffic lights, De Quintal adds. And here’s the twist: with newfangled lights at most intersections, your child should watch not only for the green light but for the pedestrian hand. If it’s telling you to stop, don’t cross. “The intersection may be allowing traffic to move first and then people. The cars won’t necessarily anticipate you being there."

And for your older kids, whose ears may be glued to headphones, now is a good time to remind them to walk without them. Ear buds are the better choice, but the bottom line is to ensure they’re aware of their surroundings, and that includes being able to hear what’s going on around them.

Two-Wheel Safety

Due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s not surprising to see more people biking and walking these days. If your child is riding his or her bike to school, helmets properly fastened is key. At a stop light your child must dismount and then remount on the other side.

Younger children are often advised to ride on the sidewalk instead of the road, ensure they share the space cautiously with fellow pedestrians. Cycling by-laws differ across Ontario communities, however, so be sure to contact your local municipality for information that governs your area.

No matter where they ride, however, your child’s bike should be maintained in good working order. That means it must be equipped with lights, reflectors and a bell, horn or other means of letting those around them know they’re coming.

And remember one’s ABCs, De Quintal says, explaining the need to check the air, brake and chain (ABC) or crank to make sure it’s operating properly.

Other biking rules to follow include:

  • Ride in a straight line on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as traffic.
  • Use hand signals early when turning or stopping.
  • Check driveways for cars turning in or backing out and make eye contact with drivers.


Learn More

At CAA we’re dedicated to road user safety and the wellbeing of our children is paramount to us. If you’re a teacher or a school liaison officer looking for road safety related lesson plans, or how to organize a bike rodeo, visit ontarioroadsafety.ca.

Image credit: iStock.com/stockstudioX