KEEPING KIDS SAFE IS TOP-OF-MIND AS WE PREPARE FOR A NEW AND UNCERTAIN SCHOOL YEAR.The upcoming school year has yet to be completely defined and COVID-19 fears are on the minds of parents everywhere. In addition to in-school safety, there are concerns about how physical distancing measures may affect safety in school zones in neighbourhoods across Canada.
Aviva Canada recently sponsored a webinar hosted by Parachute, a national charity dedicated to injury prevention, that focused on school zone safety during COVID-19. The panel included a police constable, a school travel-planning supervisor and a parent involved in safety advocacy.
“If parents feel they need to drive their children to school it’s going to increase traffic volumes and congestion. We’ll likely see road safety challenges we haven’t yet seen,” said Constable Randy MacDonald, Residential Traffic Safety Unit, Calgary Police, AB.
Jennifer Paquet, a parent and safety advocate from East Gwillimbury, Ontario, believes communication is critical to keeping kids safe on roads that may be busier than ever. “In order to change driving behaviour, we need messages to come from many different angles, people and levels,” she said.
“The messages should be apparent in different ways - schools [need] to share how they plan to open up, police [need] to address school zone enforcement and municipalities [need] to state how they plan to support active transportation and build new infrastructure.”
Paquet also suggested tapping into data to help community leaders make informed change. “Identify the data and present it to decision-makers, like trustees and city councillors, and ask for change. They can use their communities’ voice behind them to create a larger impact that can be school board-wide or city-wide. Data talks and there is data out there. You just have to step into it.”
View a recording of the webinar.
Safe driving matters
The statistics are tough to take in: 16 child pedestrians and 5 children on bicycles are killed in Canada every year in collisions. And more than 1,000 child pedestrians and 600 children on bicycles are injured. In fact, the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children aged 14 and under is motor vehicle collisions.*
This is as unacceptable as it is preventable. We are pleased to see—and be part of—solutions aimed at reducing these numbers.
The Elementary Road Safety Program
In 2019, Aviva Canada proudly partnered with Parachute to bring safer school zones to communities that need it most.
The Elementary Road Safety program works to empower communities and schools to identify and address risks to children travelling to and from school. While the effects of the global pandemic slowed our progress over the last few months as the country stayed home to help flatten the curve, we are committed to our mission. We’ll continue to work with 20 elementary schools across Canada over a five-year period.
The partnership also developed the Elementary Road Safety Guide that equips concerned community members with tools to tackle and address school zone safety issues locally. We invite you to get the guide and start to make changes in your community today.
As the school year approaches, we can all work together to renew our focus on keeping kids and youth safe as they make their way back to the classroom.
*Data Source: National Collision Database (NCBD)
The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.