Canada's Condominium Magazine

Calls for road safety as new school year begins

When school starts again next week, everything changes for children, and for drivers. The safety of kids becomes, or should become, drivers’ main concern whenever they drive on a residential street or near a school. A writer in the Irish Independent newspaper puts it best: no child should be responsible for their own safety. The writer was reacting to the disturbing fact that twice as many children have died on the roads in that country so far this year as in all of last year. Half of them were pedestrians, the other half passengers in cars.

The same warnings and reminders are being given all over the world as summer holidays end and children go back to school next week. Drivers tend to forget, after a couple of months without school buses on every street, that they have to drive more cautiously when the kids return. And the kids, especially the youngest, can’t be always thinking of their own safety: they have too many other things on their minds, and children younger than nine can’t think rationally about safety anyway. No child should be responsible for their own safety.

An emergency room physician in Toronto wrote movingly (Huffington Post) about the night a little girl was killed by a car last month. Her main message is that drivers need to slow down on residential streets, especially where those warning signs—Slow Down: Kids at Play—are displayed. Children younger than twelve years old “should never cross streets without a caregiver present,” the doctor warns. Kids younger than twelve “have difficulty assessing the speed and distance of cars, putting them at risk.”

texting-driving-pedestrian-distraction-accident-danger-school-Condo.ca
Don’t do it.

Don’t walk distracted

Another important tip from the doctor is one that older parents never heard when they were kids: teach your children to put down the electronic devices first, and then look left, right and left again when crossing the street. This is good advice for anyone—just take a look at all the “woman texting while walking falls into shopping mall fountain” videos out there to see how good—but especially for younger kids.

According to FedEx Canada and safety-oriented charity Parachute, which sponsor a children’s safety initiative called Walk This Way, most road accidents involving children occur between 3 and 6 p.m. when children are returning home from school. The program advises that parents teach their children the tried and true lesson to “look and listen” before crossing a street, and to “teach by doing,” showing children by example that they should cross only at intersections with stop signs and cross walks. They also emphasize that distractions like cellphones and devices should not be used either when walking or driving.

The CAA South Central Ontario region made available the following safety tips for drivers and for students.

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For drivers

  • Always check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and behind your vehicle before backing up
  • Remember to slow down in school zones
  • Be ready to stop at all times as children may dart out between parked vehicles
  • Try to make eye contact with children waiting to cross the street
  • Come to a complete stop for school buses when red lights are flashing

For students

  • Stop before stepping onto the road
  • Look in all directions before crossing the street
  • Listen for traffic
  • Walk, don’t run, across the road

Bus safety rules

  • Be at the bus stop ahead of time
  • Stand back from the edge of the road in a safe location
  • Hold the hand rail when boarding or exiting the bus
  • Keep feet out of the aisle to avoid tripping others
  • Keep your head and arms inside the bus
  • Always follow the bus driver’s instructions

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