Back to School

TruceTO Back to School Basics: Road Safety Education

With over 1.4 million students in Ontario heading back to school this year, getting to and from school safely is top of mind for parents, educators and kids.1

In the GTA alone, 21 pedestrians and 4 cyclists under the age of 19 were killed or seriously injured in 2017 in a collision with a motor vehicle, and 9 were killed or seriously injured due to aggressive and distracted driving.2

Problem

  1. Dangerous driving around schools, such as speeding, texting while driving, or not obeying traffic signs, puts kids at higher risk of getting seriously injured.

    According to a study by Sick Kids and York University, 88% of schools surveyed say unsafe parking and child drop-offs, such as dropping children off on the opposite side of school are some of the most common dangerous driving behaviours.3

  2. The problem isn’t just with drivers. There is a serious lack of education around safe practices (e.g.crossing the road) and road signage among cyclists and pedestrians too, which contributes to higher rates of road incidents.

    According to RSA Insurance, half(50%), of pedestrians aren’t sure when cyclists have the right of way, and a third (33%) of cyclists have seen unfamiliar road signs recently4

  3. It’s clear that more education is needed, and all road users agree.

    57% of cyclists and 44% of pedestrians want their cities to invest in driver education5

Tips

  1. Improving infrastructure by modifying the built environment can lead to a safer walk to school.6
    • Lowering motor vehicle speeds can be an effective way to improve road safety, as higher speeds increase the severity of crashes, and pedestrian and cyclist fatalities increase as motor vehicle speeds go up
    • Traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps or narrowing lanes, have been proven to slow traffic and reduce collisions by as much as 45%7
    • Improving the safety of crossings by installing crosswalks or traffic lights can help reduce motor vehicle speeds, separate pedestrians from traffic, and increase pedestrian visibility
  2. Educate yourself on best practices when driving in school zones.8
    • Don’t double park in a school zone – this blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
    • Try to make eye contact with children who are waiting to cross the road
    • Follow speed limits
    • Do not leave your car in idle if you are exiting the vehicle
  3. Model safe road usage for your children.9
    • Always indicate your intentions by using hand signals or by ringing your bell if cycling with your child
    • Practise riding or walking the route ahead of the first day back, to identify possible hazards
    • If riding or walking, know your abilities and limits. Make sure to watch for drivers and passengers getting in and out of parked cars and be aware of the risk of car doors opening
    • Put away items that distract you and limit your speed in school zones

Benefits

OVERALL, BETTER AND SAFER ROAD USAGE LEADS TO: 10

  • Healthier children
  • Decongestion of traffic
  • Safer school zones
  • Better academic performance

Conclusion

  1. Whether you walk, cycle or drive, we all have a role and responsibility in keeping our roads safe and our children out of harm’s way.

    According to RSA Insurance, cyclists (77%), drivers (88%) and pedestrians (73%) agree that they collectively play a role in improving road safety.

  2. Improved infrastructure, greater education and a little more empathy are some of the ways we can improve road safety in Canada.

Footnotes

  1. 1Ontario Ministry of Education
  2. 2Toronto Police Service Public Service Data Portal
  3. 3Dangerous student car drop-off behaviours and child pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions: an observational study, Traffic Injury Prevention and Sick Kids
  4. 4According to a survey of 1,560 Canadians conducted between December 15 and 22, 2017 by Maru/Matchbox, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20
  5. 5Ibid
  6. 6Walking is an easy, inexpensive, and healthy way for kids to get to school, Tcat.ca
  7. 7Walking is an easy, inexpensive, and healthy way for kids to get to school, Tcat.ca
  8. 8Back to School: Safety Tips for Drivers, sernis.com
  9. 910 tips for Safe-to-School Cycling, biyclingtrade.com.au
  10. 10Ontario Active School Travel