What you and your kids should know to get to and from school safely

School crossing sign

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted January 27, 2023

Get a straight-A in safety with these back-to-school tips and reminders to establish a safe routine and get your child to school safely. 

School is now in session.

While children will need to remember to raise their hands, hang up their school bags and listen attentively, there are rules for parents and guardians to remember around school zones as well. 

With many kids heading to school for the first time, and many parents learning the new school drop-off and pick-up commute, whether that be on public transport, walking, cycling, or driving, there’s a lot both kids and parents need to know to get to and from school safely. 

Walking to school safety

When school returns, many students will make their way via foot, with backpacks and school lunches in tow. While it's great to take in the sunshine, it is important to stay vigilant when crossing roads with the following safety measures: 

Stop, look, listen, and think 

Whether with children or if they walk on their own, remember to teach them to stop, look, listen and think:

  • Consciously  stop at the kerb and not on the road.
  • Look in all directions for approaching traffic.
  • Listen  for anything coming.
  • Think  about whether it is safe to cross the road.

Holding hands 

RACV recommend that children up to five years of age always hold a parent or guardians’ hand when near traffic or the road, and children under 12 must remain supervised at all times when crossing the road for safety. 

Cross the road safely

When crossing the road, cross only where it is safe to do so – either at a traffic light once the pedestrian signal turns green, a pedestrian crossing, or with a lollipop person / traffic controller outside of the school zone. 

Ensure to teach children not to cross when distracted by items such as headphones or smartphones, and to always be alert with a clear view of their surroundings – and to ensure that they can also be seen clearly. 

Stick to the footpath

Footpaths are there for a reason – designed for pedestrians to walk on. Make sure you and your young ones walk in people-friendly zones and save the roads for adult cyclists and vehicles to ensure safety on the school stroll. It’s a class act. 


Girl getting ready to go to primary school with parents

The start of school is always exciting - just make sure they get there safely. Image: Getty. 

Cycling to school safety

Bike riding to school is a great way to exercise, give your child independence and help the environment. Just ensure they have proper knowledge of road and safety laws on their way to and from school:

Always wear a helmet and obey safety laws

Once your child has chosen a bike, it is the law to wear a helmet that meets Australian standards. Bicycles must also have a horn or bell and working brakes. 

If riding at night, cyclists are required to stay visible with lights on the front and rear and a rear red reflector. 

Only ride alone or on the road when ready

Children who are still learning to ride a bike properly, including braking, cornering and riding in a straight line, need to be supervised at all times. 

Additionally, children under the age of 13 are not recommended to ride on the road without adult supervision, and should instead stick to the footpath, keeping mindful of driveways and other pedestrians. Adults may ride on the footpath with a child.  

Cross the road safely

When crossing the road with a bike, teach your child to dismount and walk the bicycle safely across the road at the pedestrian crossing before continuing on their journey.

Whether you are bicycle riding with your child or letting them ride on their own, make sure you have gone over this bicycle safety checklist before they hit the path on two wheels. 

Lock up your bike securely

Lots of kids ride their bikes to school, but thieves know this, which makes it very important to for your kids to know how to store and lock their bike securely.

Whether you are bicycle riding with your child or letting them ride on their own, make sure you have gone over this bicycle safety checklist before they hit the path on two wheels.

A recent report from Bicycle Network found that reported bike thefts in Victoria had increased by more than 80 per cent from 2011 to 2020, but only 9 per cent of bike theft cases were solved.

Many schools provide students with secure storage for their bicycles, if not, your child should know these four important rules for locking up their bike:

  1. Locate an immoveable object
  2. Attach a good quality D-lock to connect the rear wheel, seat tube, and anchor point
  3. Attach a second good quality D-lock to your front wheel, down tube and anchor point
  4. Double-check the bike is secured securely



The best way to lock your bike | RACV

Getting public transport to and from school safely

Public transport is a key component of Victoria’s school network, with up to 38 per cent of children and teens using it for their classroom commute. Even then, many motorists forget the road rules when driving with public transport in Victoria, which is just one of the reasons it is important for your precious cargo to remain vigilant on their school journey. 

Getting the tram to school safely

Many people still misunderstand rules around trams, particularly when to stop, overtake, and give way. 

While vehicles should always stop when a tram does, if your child is taking the tram to school, ensure they have an understanding to always look for incoming traffic when hopping on and off the tram. 

It is also important that they follow the same principles to stop, look, listen and think before crossing tram tracks or busy roads to get to a tram stop, and to always wait on the sidewalk rather than the road or raised lane. 

Getting the bus and train to school safely

The wheels on the bus go round and round… 

While there’s plenty of time for songs once on board, the same safety caveats apply - to be aware of surroundings, delays, and other passengers on board. 

When catching the train, it’s also important to remain vigilant around train lines and maintain a safe distance behind the yellow line on the platform to avoid accident or injury. Over 30 deaths have been recorded at train level crossings across Australia. 

Remind your child to always wait at a level crossing until it is safe to walk, no matter how much of a hurry they may be in.  

To keep kids and teens safe on public transport, you can:

  • Plan your journey  
    RACV’s arevo app allows you to plan your journey, including bike routes, public transport, petrol prices, and live public transport updates. 
  • Track their trip  
    Set your child’s phone to share its location. Try Family Location Sharing or Find My Friends app, which lets you know where your child is in real-time.  
  • Don’t get caught out  
    Make sure your child is never stuck to get to or from school with automatic top ups on their public transport pass. 
  • Make sure you know each other’s numbers 
    These days, everything is automated. Spend some time making sure you and your children have memorised each other’s phone numbers in case of an emergency and you need to get in contact. 
  • Learn who to go to for assistance 
    Inform your child of who they can turn to for assistance on their journey, such as a PSO, police force member or public transport staff personnel. 
School zone speed sign

RACV supports 40km/h school speed zones for all schools in Victoria. Image: Getty. 

Driving in school zones safely 

Getting ready for the school drop off? So are the majority of kids, with 58 per cent of children getting a ride to or from the school grounds each day. 

Whether you walk your child in or drop them at the ‘Kiss and Go’ bay, remember that school rules apply to both adults and children to ensure a safe and smooth journey on the way to and from school: 

School speed zones 

With school back in session, parents and passing motorists need to be on the lookout for changing speed zones. School zones across Victoria will see speeds drop from 60 km/h to 40 km/h. Serious monetary fines apply to breaking the speed limits along with loss of demerit points. 

RACV has been advocating for 40 km/h speeds in all school zones, to reduce the risk of injury and save lives.

Remember to encourage your child to also wait on the footpath or use the appropriate crossings to get to the pick-up point. If possible, take time to get out and assist your child into the car, or teach them to wait until they can cross to you safely. 

RACV is a strong advocate for improving Victoria’s road and transport safety. You can find out more here.

Car seats 

All children under the age of seven must be in a child restraint in the car that suits the age and size of the child, from baby capsules to restraints, boosters, and seatbelts. You can find out how to choose the right child restraint here.

Driver safety

If driving children to school, safety is paramount. Always ensure that the person driving has a current and valid driver licence, has a BAC level of 0.05 or lower (or zero if on their probationary licence), is not suffering from fatigue or other illness that may affect their driving, and that the driver understand rules around child safety laws for children in cars and school zones.  


Want kids to learn more about safety in school?
Discover the RACV Primary School Safety Education program