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It’s That Time Again, Back to School Tips 2023

A new school year means that we have to be more aware around schools and in school zones. Pedestrian safety begins with all road users. It’s important to put away distractions such as electronic devices and be extra attentive in school zones, be it a person driving, a child walking, or biking to school. Prior to the school year starting again, we have two simple questions for drivers. Number one: Do you know what time a school zone is in effect? And number two: Do you know what the speed limit is in a school zone on urban and rural roads?  If you are not sure, please read on for the answers to this and also for some driver safety tips for the new school year.


Time and Speed in School Zones

In Calgary and Edmonton, school zones are marked as playground zones, in effect every day of the week from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours can vary for different towns and cities according to municipal bylaws, so make sure you check the rules in your community if living or driving outside of Calgary and Edmonton. The speed limit in school zones in urban and rural areas across Alberta is 30 km/h.


What Drivers Can Expect

As school doors open, traffic gets a little heavier on our streets. More congestion means that people are back from holidays, school buses and public transit are on regular routes, and more people are walking, cycling, or driving around school areas. This also means that school zones are areas with extremely high vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. Plan ahead, be patient, and leave extra time to reach your destination. Additionally, know your route in advance to determine drop off, pick-up, no stopping, and parking zones.


 Driving Tips for All Road Users in School Zones

 Students/ Pedestrians

  1. Make sure students/children don't arrive too early at the bus stop where they can wander or get into mischief. Make sure students/children wait well away from the road and stay back until the school bus makes a full stop and the doors open. Explain to students/children that they must walk at least three metres (10 feet) away when crossing in front of the bus so the driver can see them.
  2. Never run to or from the bus.
  3. If you drop something near the bus, don't pick it up. Tell the driver or another person first.
  4. Make eye contact with the drivers before proceeding into the intersection.
  5. Avoid any distractions when walking, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention at crosswalks.
  6. Walk on the sidewalk and cross at street corners with traffic lights or at a crosswalk.
  7. Pay attention to crossing guards and follow their instructions.




  1. Look well ahead and be aware of school zones and bus stops. Students/children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  2. Be aware of your environment, check around your vehicle before backing, always check mirrors, and shoulder check before opening your vehicle door.
  3. Reduce your speed and drive to conditions in school zones. Students/children are often out throughout the day at recess, lunch, and for after school programs, so it's important to drive slowly and obey the speed limit throughout the day.
  4. Be more cautious in residential areas where children are present.
  5. Obey school patrollers and crossing guards.  If you come up to a set of lights, and the light turns green, but the crossing guard still says stop, follow their direction and not the traffic light. There might be a student/child still crossing the street that you can't see.
  6. Be more cautious at crosswalk intersections. The latest statistics in Alberta show that one in four collisions were intersection-related and that 42 people were killed and 5,179 were injured in intersection related collisions. *Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics 2020*
  7. Never pass or overtake other vehicles within a school zone or a vehicle that is slowing down near a crosswalk area.
  8. Scan between parked vehicles, avoid bus zones if possible, and don’t stop or make U-turns near crosswalks.
  9. Give cyclists a wide berth. A minimum clearance of one meter of space between your vehicle and the outermost edge of the bicycle, meaning the handlebars. If you’re on a road with a speed limit above 60 km/h, one and a half meters of distance is required.


Parents and Guardians


  1. Schools will likely have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. For the safety of all students/children, make sure you know the procedures.
  2. Never park illegally. Help students be on time for pick-ups, while waiting in a safe place that’s well back from the edge of the road.
  3. Follow the rules of the road and eliminate distracted driving. Obey the speed limit and keep your eyes on the road.
  4. To avoid traffic congestion in busy areas, park a couple of blocks away and safely walk the rest of the way with the students/children.
  5. Let students/children out of the vehicle away from traffic. Usually, that is the passenger side of the vehicle.
  6. Never double park; it blocks visibility for other students and vehicles.
  7. If possible, avoid loading or unloading students across the street from the school.


For more driver tips to increase driver awareness, why not book a 2 hour brush up lesson.