Before starting any safe school zone interventions your community should evaluate your school zone. You’ll use the information you collect to help choose the most appropriate, evidence based interventions. After your interventions are in place, you should evaluate the school zone again to measure any change.
Some of the measurements you will collect before and after starting your intervention include:
- information on driving behaviours in the school area.
- how children travel to school (e.g., walking, wheeling or being driven in a vehicle).
- physical features in the school zone (e.g., posted speed limit signs).
- what parents and caregivers think about traffic danger near the school.
Measurement is important because it will help you understand if the interventions your community has put in place are having the effect you wanted to achieve, such as lower speeds, safer driving behaviours or fewer injuries.
Complete the Site Audit Form
You can use this tool to collect information about the physical features of each road that borders the school. This information will help you decide what new features to add to improve safety for children travelling to and from the school.
When to use this tool
- Perform the first site audit before you make any physical changes to the area surrounding the school (e.g., putting in new signs or changing speed limits.)
- Do a follow-up site audit once all interventions/physical changes have been made to the roads surrounding the school.
How to complete your site audit
- Identify the audit area. It should include the roadways that immediately surround the school.
- Depending on how many roads border the school you will need approximately three observers to collect site audit information.
- Give each observer one roadway to audit. Walk from one end of the roadway to the other and, using the form, check off any of the features you see.
- For more detailed information, you can consult the City of Toronto’s Traffic Calming Guide.
Complete the Driver and Pedestrian Safety Checklist
This checklist will be used to collect information about dangerous driver and pedestrian behaviours around the school during morning drop-off time.
This tool will be used again after interventions are implemented to determine if there was an improvement in the school zone: that is, do we now see less-dangerous driving behaviour at the school.
When to use this tool
- Perform the first Driver and Pedestrian Safety Checklist on a good weather day and when no special events are scheduled (e.g., bike to school week, PA Day).
- The following year, do a follow-up checklist on roughly the same day with similar good weather conditions after all interventions/physical changes have been made to the roads surrounding the school.
How to use this checklist
- You will need two observers standing on opposite sides of the school (e.g., one near a parking lot and one near the front of the school).
- Complete the check over a 20-minute period – 15 minutes before the bell rings and five minutes after.
- Each observer will fill in whether they saw each behaviour at least once at the school. Note: this is not a count of how many times the behaviour was seen but only a yes/no indicator of whether the behaviour was seen at least once.
- Once the observers have completed their checklists, they should combine their observations to determine which behaviours were seen at that school.
Complete the Observational Counts Form
This will help you collect information and understand about travel mode (i.e., how children get to school – by walking, wheeling, and as passengers in a vehicle) during morning drop-off time. Collecting this information will help you know if any of your interventions have helped to increase the number of children who use active forms of transportation to school (i.e., walking, wheeling, and wheeling on scooter or rollerblades.
When to use this tool
During your first year, perform the first observational counts in the first months of the school year on a good weather day and when no special events are scheduled (such as bike to school week).
The following year(s), do a follow-up count on roughly the same day with similar good weather conditions after all interventions or physical changes have been made to the roads surrounding the school.
How to use the counts form
- You will need two observers standing on opposite sides of the school (e.g., one near a parking lot and one near the front of the school). Each observer counts how many children use a specific travel mode to get to school.
- If this is a very large school (600 or more students) with a high attendance rate, you may need a third observer.
- Complete the count over a 20-minute period – 15 minutes before the bell rings and five minutes after.
- Each observer fills in whether each student approaching the school was being dropped off in a motor vehicle (“car occupant”), walking (“pedestrian”), cycling (“bicycles/tricycles”), or wheeling (“scooters/roller blades”).
- At the end of the 20 minutes each observer totals the number tallied for each transportation mode (i.e., car occupant, pedestrian, bicycles/tricycles, scooters/rollerblades).
- Once all observers have completed their counts, add the totals for each travel mode together for a final travel mode count for the school.
- When doing the follow-up count after the interventions, observers should try and stand in the same location as for the first count. This information can be found on the Observational Counts Form, in the “details of observation location” section.
- Some parents may drive to a location near the school, park, and then walk with their kids to the front entranceway. Look for keys, typically parents who have driven their children to school are holding car keys in their hands.
- Sometimes parents who walk their children to school are also with another child, such as an older or younger sibling, who isn’t a student at the school. Look for backpacks and make sure the child actually enters the school before counting them in your tally.
Administer the Caregiver Questionnaire
Use this tool to collect information from parents and caregivers of students about active transportation habits, perception of obstacles related to active transportation, and perception of traffic safety or danger around schools.
Understanding why parents, caregivers and students may or may not use active transportation to school will help you choose evidence-based interventions that are likely to be effective in your community.
When to use this tool
- This questionnaire should be given to parents and caregivers at the beginning of the school year and collected as soon as possible.
- This can be used as an engagement tool between ERS team and caregiver.
- If your school is interested in seeing whether or not traffic safety perceptions have changed, you can do a follow-up questionnaire after your interventions.
How to use the Caregiver Questionnaire
- Have parents and caregivers of students answer the questionnaire by either filling in the blanks, circling the most appropriate answer, and ranking where applicable.
- Anyone who is not a parent – such as a paid nanny, an older sibling, a grandparent, a neighbour – should be classified as “guardian” for the purposes of the questionnaire.