Changing Your Back to School Commute



    BURNABY, BC, Aug. 24 /CNW/ - For many the back to school commute means
stress and congestion around schools. The BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation
suggests that parents and caregivers try changing the way children get to and
from school this year and reduce some of that stress and congestion.
    There are many safer and healthier alternatives to driving kids to and
from school. Walking or cycling is probably the easiest and safest when
children travel with a buddy and use a safe route that everyone is familiar
with.
    Parents or older siblings can take turns accompanying a group of kids to
and from school. It's an opportunity for parents to set a good example and
teach their children safe pedestrian, cycling and traffic practices and
attitudes.
    Many schools in BC have implemented traffic reduction programs and other
strategies that reduce congestion, pollution, risk of injury, and encourage a
more active lifestyle. Signage, patrolled intersections and 30 km/h school
zone speed limits - in effect weekdays between 8 AM and 5PM - are all
examples.
    Driving kids to and from school every day can also have a serious
environmental impact on children's lives. Not only does the pollution around
schools caused by idling vehicles cause health problems but the congestion of
cars in school zones creates an environment where children can be seriously
injured or even killed.
    "The biggest risk to children in school zones is still those parents, and
there are many, who continue to make U-turns, stop in no-stopping zones, back
up into crosswalks, roll through stop signs, ignore the school safety
patrollers, let their children out from the driver's side and into oncoming
traffic and speed," says Linda Lawlor, School Safety Patrol Program
Coordinator.
    "Most child pedestrian-related injuries occur in September and October,
followed by May and June, and children aged 5 to 14 years are at the greatest
risk for pedestrian-related fatalities," says Lawlor adding that children are
more likely to be struck by a car in areas with heavy traffic volumes, a high
density of parked cars and limited choices for play.
    In many B.C. communities, the School Safety Patrol Program is sponsored
by the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation. The program operates as a partnership
involving the Foundation, police, school districts and schools. The BCAA
Traffic Safety Foundation provides equipment, training resources and support
to the School Safety Patrol Program. For more information about the School
Safety Patrol Program visit www.schoolsafetypatrol.ca or call 604-297-2153.

    
    FINES AND PENALTIES:
    --------------------

    Most school zone speed limits are 30 km/h and are in effect weekdays
between 8 AM and 5 PM.

    Speed                    Fine        Penalty Points

    31 - 50 km/h             $196              3
    51 - 70 km/h             $253              3
    71 - 90 km/h             $368              3
    Greater than 90 km/h     $483              3

    (Source:  British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)


    SCHOOL TRAFFIC SAFETY TIPS:
    ---------------------------

    For Drivers:
    ------------

    -   Stop and Slow Down - In or near school and residential areas, and
        always be prepared to stop at marked crosswalks.

    -   Look for Clues - Such as School Zone signs, BCAA School Safety
        patrollers, bicycles, and playgrounds, which indicate children could
        be in the area.

    -   Parked Cars - Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs
        that children could dart into the road.

    -   Weather - Practice extra caution in adverse weather conditions.

    -   Commute Times - Pay particular attention near schools during the
        morning and afternoon hours. Reduce speed to 30 km/h in school zones
        on weekdays 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

    -   School Buses - Always stop for school buses when their red lights are
        flashing for loading and unloading students.

    -   Expect the Unexpected - Kids darting out from between parked cars,
        other vehicles backing up, rolling through stop signs, pulling away
        without signaling, and making U-turns.

    For Families:
    -------------

    -   Walking - Walking car pools and buddies are great ways to get to
        school. Parents can take shifts and walk along a prescribed route
        picking up and dropping off children at designated stops along the
        way. Friends can meet up the same way and walk to and from school
        together, and older students take on the responsibility of walking
        with younger students on their way to or from school.

    -   Safe Routes - It is important that children travel along the safest
        routes possible to and from school. Children should walk on sidewalks
        if possible, cross at light-controlled or patrolled crosswalks, and
        avoid wooded areas or places where there is very little activity on
        the streets.

    -   Bike Riding - Helmets must be worn by law. Bright clothing with
        reflective strips and equipping bikes with front and rear lights adds
        to rider safety. All riders should be properly trained to ride a
        bicycle and understand and obey the rules of the road.

    -   Public transportation - The above strategies can also be modified
        with students using transit instead of walking or riding to school.

    -   Visibility - Make sure children are visible to other road users -
        wearing light coloured or reflective clothing if they will be out in
        low light. Make sure that small children understand that they are
        sometimes impossible for a driver to see. Make eye contact with
        drivers before stepping into the intersection.

    -   Know the Rules - Make sure that your kids get proper supervision by
        an adult that understand the rules and models good practices.
    

    About BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation

    The BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation is a non-profit registered charity
working with families, communities and business partners to reduce the number
and severity of traffic crashes and injuries in B.C. For more information
visit www.BCAATSF.ca or call 604-298-5107.

    
                             DRIVE TO SAVE LIVES
                               www.BCAATSF.ca
    

    URL for this media release is:
http://www.tsfbcaa.com/content/custompages/news.aspx





For further information:

For further information: Lennea Durant, Media Relations, BCAA Traffic
Safety Foundation, (604) 875-1182, lenneadurant@shaw.ca; Linda Lawlor,
Coordinator, School Safety Patrol Program, BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation,
(604) 297-2153, linda.lawlor@bcaa.com

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BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation

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British Columbia Automobile Association

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