Thousands of school kids are heading back to the classroom.

Most have been socially isolated for months, and anxious about what’s in store for them at school.

With kids back in class and more congestion on the roads, ICBC and the RCMP are urging you to stay focused when behind the wheel and to use extra caution in school zones.

On Vancouver Island, ICBC says 65 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.

That number jumps up to 380 province-wide, with a yearly average of five children killed in accidents across B.C.

Police and Speed Watch volunteers will be closely monitoring drivers’ speeds in school zones to help children get a safe start to the school year.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our children safe on our community’s roadways,” says RCMP constable Gary O’Brien.

“Motorists must reduce speeds when approaching school zones and at crosswalks. Parents and teachers are also encouraged to remind children to stay alert, to leave gadgets alone when walking or cycling, and dress to be seen.”

Drivers are being reminded the speed limit in school zones is 30 km/h Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, unless otherwise posted.

In playground zones, the same speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk.

Drivers must come to a complete stop for all school buses when red lights are flashing and children are getting on or off the bus.

Parents are encouraged to review ICBC’s tip sheet with their children and go over their daily route to and from school with them.

ICBC’s tips for drivers:

  • If you drop off your child in a school zone, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
  • If a vehicle’s stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.
  • Watch for school buses and when their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.
  • Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure no small children are hidden from your view. Always look for pedestrians when you’re backing up.
  • In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Watch for children as they could dash into the street at any moment.

ICBC provides free road safety educational materials to B.C. schools to help students from kindergarten to grade 10 learn about road safety topics unique to their grade level using fun and interactive activities.