Driving in a school zone: what you need to know

It’s back to school time. That means you’ll be seeing plenty of students walking and biking to and from school in the morning and afternoon. You’ll also be sharing the road with school vehicles, including busses and paratransit busses. As a result, you’ll have to adjust your driving habits. In this article, the team at Auto Value outlines the rules you need to respect when driving through school zones.

Speed limits

In Quebec, the beginning and end of school zones are marked by bright yellow-green signs. Some also inform drivers of an upcoming school zone or crosswalk.

In areas where drivers are required to reduce their speed, additional signage located under the school zone sign indicates the speed limit. The signs also display the hours, days and months during which the reduced speed limit is in effect. To avoid putting school children at risk, you must respect these signs to the letter.

Did you know?

As of August 1, 2019, drivers receive a double fine for speeding in a school zone. For example, if you’re going 70 km/h in a 30 km/h zone, your fine will now be $350 instead of $175.

School busses

Make sure you’re aware of the rules that apply to driving behind school busses. If their yellow lights are flashing, get ready to stop. If their red lights are flashing, come to a complete halt at least five metres behind the bus (see Article 460 of the Highway Safety Code). Failing to comply with these rules puts children in danger and can also result in a fine of $200 to $300 as well as nine demerit points.

Duty of care

Children exiting a school bus or riding a bike to and from school are among the most vulnerable people on the road. The “duty of care” was introduced into the Highway Safety Code in 2018 to help protect such persons. This principle applies to all road users and stipulates that “the big” have a duty to protect “the small.” For example, heavy vehicle drivers must exercise caution towards cars, and car drivers are expected to be especially cautious around cyclists and pedestrians.

Finally, remember that children can have trouble gauging speed and distance and struggle to identify a sound’s point of origin. As a result, they can have unpredictable reactions. Do your part to keep them safe by being highly alert when driving in a school zone, in particular at intersections, crosswalks and roadsides.

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