Pedestrian Safety

Walking to school is a great way for children to stay healthy, learn to navigate their neighbourhood safely and meet new friends. It also reduces traffic in school zones which increases road safety for walkers and cyclists approaching the school.

Parents and children must be familiar with traffic safety rules. For children, simply speaking about traffic safety does not lead to safer behaviours. Walking with children and negotiating neighbourhood streets with them, while explaining how to make safe choices provides an experience and opportunity to develop traffic safety awareness. This is an ideal way for children to practice safe pedestrian skills. Parents and caregivers can teach children these skills and create opportunities for them to demonstrate that they understand and know how to walk safely.

Note: It is crucial for parents to model safe pedestrian behaviours. Children will do what you do, so always ensure you make safe choices.

For children, the most obvious journeys for learning to be a safe pedestrian are the ones made to and from school each day. Many parents, for a variety of reasons, choose to drive their children to school. Unfortunately, this denies children the experience of learning to cross roads safely. It also creates danger for other children, who are walking and cycling in the neighbourhood.

For parents who must drive, they may consider parking safely away from the school site to walk the last few blocks to school with their children.


Rules for railway crossings
  • Never play around railway crossings. These are danger zones.
  • Trains always have the right of way. They do not slow down at crossings. Use designated railway crossings and obey all signals and signs.
  • Wait until a train passes completely before crossing the tracks. Watch for more than one train, and check if a train is coming from the opposite direction.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing. Be extra careful and watch your step when crossing railway tracks.
Ensuring that a child is visible to motorists when walking or biking to school
  • Combine bright and white colours with reflective strips and features on outer clothing for daytime, low light and night conditions. The brighter the better!
  • Bright and white colours along with reflective materials help keep pedestrians safer as they walk, wait for transit or for the school bus. This is particularly important in wet rainy weather, and on dark rural roads.
  • Reflective materials work in low light and at night. Reflection occurs when light rays strike a material and bounce off it. This special material includes reflective strips and reflector tags. A thumb size reflective tag means car headlights can see a pedestrian from 500 feet away. A car travelling at 60 MPH needs 260 feet to stop.
  • Backpacks and coats should have reflective strips and/or reflective dangle tags added. These can also be placed on gloves, hats, and umbrellas.
  • Fluorescent colours are effective in daylight but they are not adequate in low light or dark conditions; be sure to add reflective strips and dangle tags to be visible at dusk, dawn and at night.
  • Reflective tags or tape should be attached to strollers that are pushed ahead of pedestrians. This will ensure they are more visible to drivers approaching an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Flashlights help children see better and the light source makes them more visible to motorists.
  • Reinforce safe pedestrian practices. In particular it is important to walk facing traffic where there are no sidewalks. This allows a pedestrian to see approaching vehicles.
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