When I was in Grade 6, I volunteered to join the school patrol program.
On my allocated day of the week, I would stand at an intersection either before or after school, wearing a reflective vest and holding a stop sign. When people would approach the crosswalk, I would step out onto the street, stop sign held horizontally in front of me, and make sure each pedestrian crossed the street safely.
As a thank you for our time, the school board would host all of the school patrollers around the city at a full day of fun at Playland. We had the amusement park to ourselves, and it made all of those rainy days of patrolling the street totally worthwhile.
Nowadays, I don’t see any school patrollers strutting across the street for the safety of their peers. Instead, I see parents zooming through the school zone going well over the speed limit.
I see drivers pulling into driveways to turn around and then hurriedly backing out without checking their rear-view mirrors. And it’s not just the drivers that are causing the problems.
I also see parents looking down at their phones as their little ones rush across driveways and intersections, and kids on their bikes turning without hand signals and cutting corners to save time.
I see near-accidents on the regular, and I’m not really sure what’s changed since my childhood days.
According to the Aviva Canada Road Safety Survey, “37% of parents have witnessed a car collision or near miss in a school zone, and over 70% of those involved a child,” in the past year alone.
I get it, you’re in a hurry to get to wherever you have to go, and you’re distracted by your day’s to-do list. But guess what, we’re all in a hurry. Is being on time really more important than being attentive and making sure that other children are safe?
Every school seems to have their own drive-through and drop-off system. Some offer assistance into the school as parents drive by, while others, like the school that my children attend, leave parents to their own devices - and this may be the most dangerous decision of all.
According to a report by Transport Canada, “an average of 156,000 people are injured or killed on our roads, and road related injuries remain the number one cause of death for Canadian children under the age of 14. In addition, 30 child pedestrians and 20 children on bicycles are killed each year – along with injuries to over 2,400 child pedestrians and 1,800 children on bicycles.”
It’s time to change these numbers.
Thankfully, a new social impact campaign has been launched to help keep our kids safe.
Aviva Canada, an insurance company, has teamed up with Parachute, a leader in safety and injury prevention, to launch the Take Back Our Roads elementary school road safety guide.
“Parachute is an expert in the field of school zone safety and works tirelessly to promote a safer Canada by preventing serious and fatal injuries through evidence-based solutions, advocacy and education,” reads the website on the plans for change.
From assessing the current road issues that surround each school, to implementing change to keep our kids safe, the guide is hoping to be used as a valuable program that can help reduce the dangers on the road. Let’s just hope that parents and school take these important matters seriously.
When it comes to keeping our kids safe on the roads, the solution isn’t to just encourage more families to walk and bike. Instead, we need to make sure that parents, kids, teachers, and the general public are aware of important road safety rules - both as pedestrians and as drivers, if we want to make the situation better in this city.
Bianca Bujan is a mother of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.