September is here and that means kids are back in class. Over two million students commute every weekday in Ontario, whether their parents drop them off, they walk or bike, or take the bus. Now’s the time to refresh your memory on the rules of the road when it comes to schools, and how breaking those rules could impact your insurance.

School Zones

For two months, you didn’t have to worry about where the schools are. Now, school zones are back in effect to keep everyone safe. Keep your eyes out for the five-sided yellow signs that let you know when you’re entering a school zone and reduce your speed immediately. Obey the posted times. And no matter how slow the car ahead of you is travelling, don’t pass. Children can be on the roads at any time – not just for drop off and pick up.

What would happen if you are caught violating school zone rules? In Ontario, violating a school zone is considered a ‘major’ conviction. This includes speeding in a school zone. Speeding tickets are usually doubled in school zones


School Buses

There are more than 9,000 school buses on Ontario roads during the school year, transporting students between school and home, and on field trips. According to the Ministry of Transportation, bus drivers are rarely the cause of collisions involving a school bus. In fact, the leading cause of collisions involving school buses are failure to yield, following too closely, speeding, and losing control.

Improper passing of a school bus is also considered a major conviction in Ontario. Failure to stop for a bus comes with up to a $2,000 fine for the first offence, and up to $4,0000 for every subsequent offence plus six demerit points. Serial violators could also be sentenced for up to six months in jail.


Crossing Guards

When a school crossing guard displays a school crossing sign stop, all drivers must stop before reaching the crossing and have to remain stopped until everyone, including the crossing guard, has cleared the crossing. This is in accordance with the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

Wondering what’s considered a school crossing? If it’s a pedestrian crossing where a school crossing guard is present and displays the proper sign, it’s a school crossing. No matter how far away from the school the guard is.

Often, schools near major roads (such as King West in Toronto) will add crossing guards to the nearby intersections. No matter what the traffic light says in these situations, you must obey the signals from the crossing guard when present.

Starting September 1, 2018, a conviction for failing to yield at a school crossing will get you a fine of up to $1,000 and cost you four demerit points. It is also considered a major conviction.


How does a conviction affect your insurance

If you have a major conviction, like violating school zones, on your record, you present a risk many insurance companies aren’t keen to take on. Though every insurer is different, some might not accept those who have had a major violation within the last 3 to 6 years. Others will likely charge a higher premium as a result of the violation.

Keeping roads safe for kids going to school is everyone’s responsibility, and needs to be a priority for drivers across the province. By ensuring you follow the rules of the road, you’ll be able to access insurance much more readily and far more affordably.