Every day, more than 10,000 buses transport more than 500,000 students on routes equivalent to 700,000 kilometers in Quebec. What happens when you get off the bus? What about the children who have to walk to school? Are they safe?
Trauma-related deaths of children under 14 are among the most common. road accidents are largely responsible for this sad statistic. Indeed, there are nearly 400 collisions involving a child and a car each year in Quebec. A quarter of these accidents occur in Montreal. In Toronto, there are 200 collisions of the same type per year. And these statistics have been fairly stable over the past few years.
The CAA-Quebec organization oversees a project that allows students to 4e, 5e and 6e primary year to become school crossing guards. The school patrol project was launched in… 1929!
Since then, more than 500,000 students have taken part in the project, either as school crossing guards, on buses or for pedestrians. The aim of the project is to raise young people's awareness of road safetyand allow them to get involved in their environment in a rewarding experience.
Experienced crossing guards welcome this initiative. In this video, the crossing guards express concern about the misbehaviour of several motorists. Indeed, they witness several violations of the Highway Code every day. Speeding, using a cell phone while driving, ignoring signage and ignoring flashing lights on school buses are at the top of the list of the most common violations.
Infrastructure to improve
Marie-Soleil Cloutier is a he alth geographer. She is well aware of the disturbing statistics concerning collisions between children and cars in Montreal. She made it her subject of study at the Urbanization Culture and Society Center of INRS. She points out that the inexperience of children is an important risk factor for accidents. The pedestrian child is the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, too often motorists are surprised by the arrival of a child in their field of vision.
The geographer suggests redesigning streets to allow for a greater safety zone for pedestrians. “We have an epidemic of orange cones in our cities right now. There are a lot of construction sites. We rebuild cities and we rebuild streets. The idea of promoting the most vulnerable is interesting”, underlines Marie-Soleil Cloutier. She suggests, for example, extending sidewalks at intersectionsso that there is a larger safe area for pedestrians.
Under the magnifying glass of researchers
Dangerous driving around elementary schools increases the rate of pedestrian-vehicle collisions by 45%. Most accidents between elementary school students and motorists happen before or after school opening hours.
The installation of speed bumps, a reduction in the number of one-way streets, designated spaces to drop off children at school, avoid being forced as much as possible to cross roads are among the solutions proposed by Alison Macpherson, Andrew Howard, Ron Buliung and Linda Rothman to improve the environment of Toronto students.
Written by Marilou Muloin-Robitaille
Also read on Planète F
Is walking to school dangerous?
How do families get around town?