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ICBC's tips to help parents and drivers keep children safe as school returns

Car crashes still number one preventable cause of death for children in B.C.

August 31, 2012

back to school

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for children and ICBC wants to help them get to and from school safely. Sadly, on average, 33 children (aged five to 18) are killed and 5,090 injured in 15,365 crashes every year in B.C.

These tragedies are preventable. We're offering tips for drivers, parents and students to help them do their part to keep children safe on our roads as they head back to school:

Tips for drivers

  • Now that school's back, don't forget that every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30-km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vehicles approaching from both directions must stop for school buses when their lights are flashing.
  • Plan ahead and be alert. Driving routes will be busier, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Look for children near or around crosswalks and intersections.
  • Always yield to pedestrians - it's the law.
  • If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may have yielded to a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
  • Watch for pedestrians when you're backing up. Before getting into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to make sure no small children are behind it.
  • When dropping off children in school zones stop and allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.

Tips for parents and students

Post these safety tips in your home and review them with your children - even older children need to be reminded about road safety.

  • Remove your headphones and put away your phone or other gadgets when crossing a street. Focus on the road so you can see, hear and respond safely.
  • As parents, we can help by reviewing the rules of the road with our children and going over their route to school. Try to make lessons fun and interactive. You could teach your child to memorize the chorus of "Walk 'n' Roll," a song by children's musician Will Stroet, which is included in ICBC's kindergarten to grade three road safety curriculum: "Wear something bright; Look left and look right; Wait for the light; Make sure you're in the driver's eyesight."
  • Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both know you see each other. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible. Even at a crosswalk, be aware of traffic and always make sure that vehicles are stopped before walking.
  • Dress to be seen. Wear bright or light coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.
  • Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk. This way, you're further away from the traffic. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers see you.
  • Be aware of parked vehicles in a parking lot or on the road. A driver may not see you between parked vehicles and you may not see them moving. Before crossing or walking through a parking lot, stop and look left-right-left around the parked vehicle. Encourage children to avoid taking shortcuts through parking lots.

ICBC provides free road safety educational materials to B.C. schools to help students learn about road safety using fun and interactive activities. The materials are unique to each grade level from kindergarten to grade 10. To find out more, visit

ICBC road safety speakers also share their personal stories with more than 50,000 high school students across the province every year to help motivate them to think twice before taking risks while driving. This fall, ICBC is also launching its annual Your Ad Here contest for high school students to create a print ad about road safety topics that will be featured in next year's school agendas.

Regional statistics*:

  • On average, 3,185 children (aged five to 18) are injured and 11 killed in 9,440 crashes every year in the Lower Mainland.
  • On average, 355 children (aged five to 18) are injured and 9 killed in 1,145 crashes every year in the North Central region.
  • On average, 820 children (aged five to 18) are injured and 8 killed in 2,510 crashes every year in the Southern Interior.
  • On average, 715 children (aged five to 18) are injured and 7 killed in 2,240 crashes every year on Vancouver Island.

*Annual crash and injury averages based on 2007 to 2011 data reported by ICBC. Annual fatal average based on 2006 to 2010 police-reported data. Data includes child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers.

**Note about statement: "Car crashes still number one preventable cause of death for children in B.C." Preliminary analysis for 2008 and 2009 coroner's data show motor vehicle crashes as the leading external cause of death. However, reports are not yet finalized and are subject to change.

Media contact:
Kathy Taylor