CAA’s September Focus: School Zone Safety
CAA’s September’s focus is on safety in school zones as thousands of Saskatchewan students will be starting a new school year. A search on Transport Canada’s National Collision Database, whose latest data is from 2017, revealed that nationally, the highest number of pedestrian deaths for children under the age of 14 is in the month of September.
To bring attention to unsafe practices in school zones, CAA Saskatchewan has conducted school zone safety assessments through a hand-held CAA-owned mobile tool. The CAA School Zone Safety Assessments were conducted in spring 2019 at two Regina elementary schools. During the assessments, risky driver and pedestrian behaviours were observed and tracked during a regular school day. Results indicated that school zones are indeed becoming more dangerous. For drivers, the top three risky behaviours that were observed and tracked were speeding, stopping in a ‘no stopping zone’ and no stopping at stop signs. For pedestrians, the top two noted risky behaviours were jaywalking and failing to look both ways before crossing the street.
Risky behaviours are still prevalent in school zones as indicated in a national poll conducted by CAA* from August 14 to August 19, 2019. More than 9 in 10 (92%) parents surveyed said that they have noticed one or more bad driving behaviours by motorists compared to 86% reported in 2017, the last time CAA polled on this topic. Driving over the speed limit was the top reported behaviour with a result of 70% in 2019, followed by 52% seeing others illegal park or stop in a school zone.
When asked what contributes to unsafe behaviours in school zones, 59% said that parents/guardians are in a hurry or are too rushed, 44% said the school zone is too congested, and 42% said that parents/guardians are not following the drop off or pick up procedures.
To help improve the safety in our school zones, CAA Saskatchewan has prepared some noteworthy safety tips:
Talk with your kids about pedestrian and traffic safety rules
- Always stop, look both ways, listen and think before safely crossing the street. Children should never run out in traffic or between parked cars, buses or buildings, use cell phones for texting, phoning, or playing games while walking or cycling. Remember, keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
- Make eye contact with the drivers before proceeding into the intersection.
- Watch for CAA School Safety Patrollers on duty and follow their instructions.
- Plan your child’s walking route to and from school and walk with them to better familiarize themselves with the school and surrounding area. Always have an older student or adult walk with younger children.
- Walk on the sidewalk and cross at street corners with traffic lights or at a crosswalk only.
- Good walking gear is important including comfortable shoes with traction.
Kids being transported via school bus/van or personal vehicle
As reported in the recent CAA national poll, 36% of elementary school-aged children go to school via school bus or van, 34% are driven in a personal vehicle, and 24% walk.
- Know your route and talk with the school administrator in advance to determine drop off, pick-up, no stopping and parking zones. Park a couple of blocks way to avoid traffic congestion and safely walk the rest of the way with your children. Don’t park illegally.
- Help your kids be on time for pick-ups, while waiting in a safe place that’s well back from the edge of the road. Remind them to cross in front of the bus and never behind. Students should always stay seated facing forward.
- Watch for school busses. Always stop for the buses’ flashing lights and wait for children to get safely on or off. Stay alert and watch for children or parents crossing the road when the bus moves on.
Learn the rules of the road in your community to help keep school zones safe
- Maintain your speed according to the posted speed limit. In Regina, the speed limit in school zones was recently changed to 30 km/h, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week. The 30 km recommendation is based on research that indicated there is a substantial increase to the survival rates for pedestrians struck at this lower speed compared with 40 km/h.
- Please check with your municipality for speed limits and regulation times in school zones, parks and playgrounds.
- Be alert. Anything that takes your focus away from the road counts as distracted driving.
- Texting is especially risky as drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be in a crash or near-collision event.
- While driving, do not text, use apps or read emails and avoid eating and drinking when you’re behind the wheel.
- Be patient. Sometimes pedestrians need a little more time to safely cross at intersections.
For further information, contact:
Christine Niemczyk, Director of Communications | CAA Saskatchewan
306.791.4327 | firstname.lastname@example.org | caask.ca
CAA Saskatchewan serves approximately 181,000 Members, offering benefits and services through its non-profit motor club, and through its travel and insurance agencies, as well as the CAA Car Care Centre at Regina Battery Depot. CAA advocates for motorists, pedestrians and travellers, provides consumer education, supports traffic safety programs and addresses related public policy issues.