This year’s BCAA Back to School Survey, conducted by Leger, reveals that drivers have some dangerous knowledge gaps when it comes to how to drive safely in school zones. While the good news is that most BC drivers (81%) know the school zone speed limit is 30 km/h and understand school bus stopping laws (88%), there are many other school zone rules that drivers either get wrong or don’t know.
In fact, 74% of drivers surveyed don’t know how to tell when a school zone ends, 69% are confused about stopping in school zones, and 42% don’t know the speed limit when school is not in session.
Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement, is worried by the survey results and encourages drivers to brush up on their school zone safety knowledge. “Bad driving in school zones, especially during back-to-school time, is both scary and dangerous. It’s often chalked up to rushing at a busy time of year, but the fact that many drivers don’t know the driving laws and rules for school zones is putting kids at even greater risk.”
“Everyday thousands of drivers travel through school zones as parents drop off and pick up their kids,” Pettipas says. “I worry that so many drivers don’t have the knowledge they need to drive through school zones safely. Rushing, alongside not knowing school zone road safety rules, is a risky combination.”
In addition to the D grade on the knowledge test, poor driving behaviours are also putting kids at risk. According to the survey, dangerous driving in school zones is still a common occurrence, especially during back-to-school time. In fact, 80% of those surveyed report witnessing speeding in school zones, while 77% have seen distracted driving. Illegal parking is widespread, with 78% reporting that as an issue and 69% say they have witnessed parents encouraging their kids to break the rules to make the school bell. Unfortunately, frustrated driving also persists, with, 60% reporting having witnessed drivers acting hostile in school zones.
Dr. Ian Pike of Preventable is also concerned about lack of knowledge and poor driving and the potential for children to get hurt. “School zones are such a unique environment, with pedestrians, scooters, bikes and vehicles all navigating around each other. When you think about kids’ lives being at stake, it’s imperative that we all play our part to minimize risk. Sensible behaviors like slowing down, driving with full awareness and expecting the unexpected go a long way to help – but honestly, making sure you know the road safety laws and rules for school zones is homework we should all do.”