EVEN WITH FEWER STUDENTS IN CLASSROOMS, PARENTS REPORT THAT SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY HAS WORSENEDGoing “back to school” has a new meaning in 2020. Amid fears about the spread of COVID-19, many students are learning at home. Many others are reminded to follow social distancing rules, sanitize their hands regularly and wear their masks at school. Students, families and teachers are managing a new reality when it comes to education.
Yet one thing that has stayed the same this year is parents’ concern about traffic safety in school zones. Despite the reduced number of students going to school buildings, dangerous traffic situations around schools are still putting kids at risk. More than a quarter of parents believe that traffic congestion has gotten worse around their schools, according to a national survey commissioned by Aviva Canada and Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention.
The survey assesses the impact of COVID-19 public health measures on school attendance and school zone traffic safety issues.
Insights from the poll include:
- While there are significant regional variations, 73 per cent of students nation-wide from preschool to Grade 8 are attending in-school classes full time.
- One-third (34 per cent) of parents have made changes to how their children get to and from school. This year, 71 per cent of students are now driven to school, are part of a carpool or walk. Pre-COVID, only 45 per cent got to school this way.
- Significantly fewer students are riding buses or taking public transit to school (42 per cent pre-COVID vs. 22 per cent this year).
- Parents polled feel that traffic congestion (45 per cent) and speeding (40 per cent) in and around school zones are the top road safety concerns for their children.
- Traffic congestion and drivers who speed, don’t obey traffic signs and back up dangerously, are seen as the biggest threats to children’s safety.
“These survey results are a good reminder that we continue to have serious issues about safety in our school zones and we can’t lose sight of that, even during a pandemic,” said Pamela Fuselli, President and CEO at Parachute.
Elementary Road Safety Program addresses concerns revealed by survey
One quarter of parents surveyed said they would consider more active transportation if there were measures such as less vehicle traffic around schools during pick-up and drop-off and more traffic safety supervision, such as police officers or crossing guards. But 41 per cent said none of those measures would encourage them to allow their children to walk or cycle.
One of the pillars of the Elementary Schools Program, a partnership between Parachute and Aviva’s Take Back Our Roads initiative, is active transportation, which contributes to improving school zone safety.
“We want parents and communities across Canada to know that there are proven and effective ways to reduce the risk of injury to children in school zones, “says Fuselli. “For example, having fewer vehicles dropping off and picking up, making sure drivers follow the speed limits and changing the road environment around the school.”
The Elementary Schools Program offers a grant program that will support 20 elementary schools across Canada over a five-year period and make tangible environmental changes to improve road safety in their school zones.
The program also developed a digital version of the Elementary Road Safety Guide that equips concerned community members anywhere in Canada with tools to address school zone safety issues locally. “Parents, teachers and community activists can download the Elementary School Guide to learn how to make their school zone safer,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility at Aviva Canada.
“Road safety in-and-around elementary school zones remains a top priority and these survey findings point to an important need for society at large to continue to invest in road safety. We will continue to do our part through our Take Back Our Roads platform,” concluded Catherine.
Click here for the full survey results.
The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.