School Traffic Safety

Getting your child to and from school safely

Neighbourhoods around our schools are safest when families keep an open mind and consider alternative means of getting children to and from school.

Walk or bike to school

Most students who are not eligible to ride the bus live within 1.6 km (1 mile) of their school. Using an average walking pace for children, a 1.6 km walk would take approximately 20 minutes. Try out the route with your child on a weekend or in the summer and time yourselves. You might be surprised to see what your child is capable of!
If you live close enough to the school, consider walking or biking with your child to school. If they are old enough, let them walk or bike to school with a friend. Not only is this a healthy alternative, but results in fewer cars in school parking lots and in front of schools. The fewer cars there are in the area, the safer it is for everyone.
  • Arrange for your children to walk in a group or with a buddy. For families with busy schedules, check out our Walking School Bus page to learn more about pedestrian buses.
  • Students riding bicycles, scooters and/or skateboards are reminded that they must wear a helmet and follow all traffic laws and by-laws. Inquire about bicycle training courses in your area including CAN-BIKE and Cycling into the Future.
  • Check your school’s rules around riding scooters or skateboards on school property.
  • Try walking to school at least once a week. Encourage your school to sign up for the STEP IN – Weekly Walk & Roll Program. Schools can register here to gain access to valuable resources.
  • Plan your route to make use of adult crossing guards. Consult your local municipality for crossing guard locations and times.

Park a few blocks from school and walk from there

If you must drive to school, park on a street near the school where there is legal parking and walk your child the remainder of the way to school.

Carpool with neighbours

Find other families in your neighbourhood who are interested in taking turns driving children to and from school. This reduces traffic around the school, and gives you more time to do other things in the morning or afternoon.

Ride the bus or use public transit

Students eligible to ride the school bus or older children taking public transit is an easy and safe way to get to and from school, especially for those who live too far away to walk or bike. Older children taking public transit can get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way to school if the neighbourhood is safe.

Drive safely

If you choose to drive your child to school, please remember to drive slowly and safely in the neighbourhood around the school – not just in front of the school. Children are unpredictable and may be difficult to see as they walk or bike to school.
  • Don’t rush. Plan ahead and allow enough time to get your child to school.
  • Drop off your child on the school side of the street so that your child doesn’t have to cross the street
  • Yield to children walking and biking around the school.
  • Stop for crossing guards and school buses when the flashing lights and stop arms are out.
  • Pay attention. Do not text or use your hand held mobile phone while driving. It is the law.
  • Do not double park or let your car idle, as this increases traffic around the school and pollutes the air.
  • Do not park in or block private driveways and confirm with business owners if the use of their parking lots is acceptable.
  • Know and obey the speed limits and traffic signs in the area.
Here’s a summary of signs to watch for around your neighbourhood school:
No Stopping ZoneNo stopping hta When this sign is posted on a city or regional street, it means that no one can can park or stop in the area designated as a no stopping zone. The fine for parking or stopping in a “No Stopping” zone varies by municipality. No stopping in a school zone area often carries an increased fine.
School Bus Loading ZoneSchool bus loading zone hta This sign indicates that the area is reserved exclusively for school buses. When stopped in school bus loading zones, school buses do not operate the flashing lights and stop arm. All other vehicles are prohibited from stopping or parking in these designated areas. The minimum fine for failing to comply with this by-law varies by municipality.
No Parking ZoneNo Parking hta When this sign is posted on a city or regional street, it means that a vehicle can stop for a short period of time while actively loading or unloading. If you leave your vehicle temporarily in a no parking area, you should put your four-way flashers on to indicate to enforcement staff that you do not intend on parking longer than two to four minutes. There are set fines for anyone leaving their vehicle parked in a no parking area.
Crossing GuardsSchool crossing hta You must stop when a crossing guard enters the roadway or while the crossing guard is in the roadway with the stop sign visible. And, you must remain stopped until the children and the crossing guard have safely cleared the roadway. Failure to stop could result in the serious injury of a child and the adult crossing guard. The minimum fine is $150 and the loss of three demerit points on your driver’s license record. Starting January 1st, 2016, drivers (including cyclists) must stop and yield the whole roadway at school crossings where there is a crossing guard displaying a school crossing stop sign.
Student Safety Patrols These safety patrols are school aged children who stand at the side of the road and assist children in crossing the road. They do not go out onto the road and stop traffic. They act as role models and help their fellow students stay safe. Motorists should exercise caution in areas where student safety patrols are located.
Fire RoutesSign-Fire_Route Fire routes are designated for emergency vehicles (fire trucks and ambulances) only. These locations must be kept clear of all other vehicles to ensure properties are accessible in case of an emergency. The minimum fine for failing to comply with this by-law varies by municipality.
No Idling Zoneno-idle Cambridge Many of our local municipalities have approved Anti-Idling by-laws which limit idling between one and three minutes. Please consult with your local municipality to learn about the rules of the by-law. The minimum fine for failing to comply with this by-law varies by municipality.

 

Why are there “no stopping” or “no parking” zones around schools?

Vehicles that are stopped or parked illegally near schools when children are being picked up or dropped off can cause high traffic volumes and poor visibility, which can create a serious safety hazard. No Stopping zones, designated by signage and by-law, are in place around schools to prevent hazardous driving behaviours. Municipal by-law enforcement officers and the Waterloo Regional Police Service regularly enforce these zones to ensure the safety of children accessing the school. It may be a small inconvenience to park in a safe place away from the school, but it could prevent a needless collision.

Student safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please report infractions to municipal by-law enforcement officials.

Why do schools close their driveways/parking lots to student pick-up/drop-off?

Many schools have closed their driveways and parking lots during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times. Generally they are closed to protect student safety. Many school parking lots are not designed with drop-off areas and parking spaces are limited. The lanes in parking lots are not for dropping off students as it is unsafe and unsupervised area.

It is also important to keep driveways and lanes clear for buses and emergency vehicles.

Please speak with your school’s principal to learn more about the use of school parking lots for pick-up and drop-off.

Kiss and Ride programs

Kiss and Ride programs, when used and operated properly, can sometimes provide an alternative to parking on municipal streets or in school parking lots. Not all school sites are designed with a Kiss and Ride program in mind – there needs to be a designated area on the school site separate from the bus loading/unloading location so there is no conflict with the two operations. Kiss and Rides work best for drop-off, but can be very challenging for pick-up.

Before proposing a Kiss and Ride program, first consider the reasons why people are choosing to drive in the first place. Can car drop-offs be reduced? Check out our information about School Travel Planning and how school travel planning initiatives may result in parents driving their children less.

Please respect our neighbours!

We kindly ask you to respect our neighbours’ property. Please do not park in or block residential driveways. Please do not use residential driveways to turn around in. Be a model citizen for your children, treat others’ property as you would like your own to be treated!

School Traffic Safety Maps

Annually, the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo produce school traffic safety maps that highlight crossing guard and safety patrol locations. Please consult our Maps page for your school’s traffic safety map.

Helpful Resources

Roundabouts

The Region of Waterloo’s website provides information about how to use a roundabout, understanding roundabout signage, roundabout safety, frequently asked questions and education videos.

Guide to Ride
Free cycling-focused lesson plans for grades 4 – 6, provided by Physical and Health Education Canada

Move Think Learn – Cycling in Focus
Geared towards grades 4 – 9, this Physical and Health Education Canada resource provides lesson plans that demonstrate how cycling strategy, tactics and skills can be transferred to other sports

CAA’s Bike Safety
This website provides a wealth of resources on bike safety, including selecting appropriate bike equipment, riding skills and tips and bike maintenance and care.

Ministry of Transportation’s Young Cyclists Guide
A cycling guidebook, designed for youth, providing information on bicycle equipment, riding tips and rules of the road.

Peel Region’s Bike Rodeo Community Kit
A “how-to” guide for establishing a Bike Rodeo in your community.