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article imageSafety at school needs to start on the street Special

By KJ Mullins     Oct 16, 2012 in World
Toronto - Walking to school and listening to crossing guards is a rite of childhood but just how safe is it? In a recent survey in Ontario over 75 percent of parents said that they saw traffic violations in their local school zones.
Today in Toronto the results of the School Zone Safety Survey were discussed by an expert panel on what needs to be done about safety in school zones. One of the top suggestions was that the adults need more education when it comes to traffic safety.
Kids learn about how to be safe in traffic conditions in school and at home. Parents teach their young ones to hold their hand while crossing at crosswalks going to school. Too often those parents then dart off forgetting their own rules with Junior watching from the playground. Parents who drive their kids to school are also creating a dangerous situation when traffic laws are violated.
Gail Robertson  Road Safety Ambassador
Gail Robertson, Road Safety Ambassador
More parents are driving their kids to school even when that drive is only a few blocks. More cars in school zones means that there are more chances that a child could be hit by a car. In Toronto there are many schools that do not have parking readily available near their local school, complicating the matter.
There's no way to really bubble wrap your children but by teaching their kids about basic traffic safety parents can give youth a better chance at staying safe. The parents also need to heed their own advice and not put others at risk.
Leslie Lacroix, Insurance Hunter lead the expert panel of Jennifer Reynolds, Editor-in-chief, Canadian Family, Gail Robertson, Road Safety Ambassador, Insurance Hunter, Linda Rothman, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, Hospital for Sick Children and Police Constable Hugh Smith, Traffic Services, Toronto Police Services this afternoon in Toronto while they discussed the issue.
Jennifer Reynolds  Editor-in-chief  Canadian Family
Jennifer Reynolds, Editor-in-chief, Canadian Family
Rothman said that while Sick Kids would love to see more children walking to school as part of a healthy lifestyle the fact is that "the more kids that walk to school the more car accidents there are."
While kids can make mistakes that are dangerous its the adults that are taking shortcuts that could end a young one's life. Close to 80 percent of parents surveyed for the’s School Zone Safety Survey said that they observed traffic violations like running red lights, speeding and texting in school drop off zones. Many of those that had said they had seen the traffic violations admitted that they were part of the problem.
A similar study lead by Rothman with researchers at Sick Kids had the same findings.
Smith said that speed and aggressive drivers are a danger in Toronto for children. They make the job of Toronto's 700 crossing guards difficult. One way to help the problem Smith said is to use Social Media as a way to educate parents.
Police Constable Hugh Smith  Traffic Services  Toronto Police Services
Police Constable Hugh Smith, Traffic Services, Toronto Police Services
"Students aren't generally the problem," Smith stated, "The parents are."
Robertson agreed that social media are a way to get to the parents on their role in protecting their children which includes not talking on their cell phones and staying alert.
Reynolds is the mother of an 8-year-old who walks to school by himself. She has given him the tools to be safe and believes that it's a parent's responsibility to make sure those tools are taught to our children. That responsibility doesn't go away when the kids hit high school according to Reynolds.
Rothman said that another factor is making sure that your child's environment is safe for their walk to school and to lobby for reduced speeds in areas that kids are around.
For more information about the survey visit Insurance Hunter's website.
More about school safety, school crosswalks, traffic violations, Toronto, Ontario
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