School zones turning into Wild West as parents speed, ignore road signs and put kids at risk - new study

BURNABY, BC, Sept. 6, 2016 /CNW/ - Speeding, ignoring road signs and hostility are just a few driving behaviours that BCAA's School Zone Safety survey reveals parents are doing every day. The problem is bad and getting worse according to 48 per cent of respondents to the survey conducted by Insights West for BCAA, made up of parents and guardians of elementary school aged children, along with principals and faculty from schools across B.C. The vast majority (68%) express deep concern for the safety of their kids.

"It's the Wild West in school zones during drop-off and pick-up times," says Shawn Pettipas, BCAA manager of community impact programs. "School zones can be frantic places with not everyone on their best driving behaviour. We commissioned the survey to see the extent of the problem but the results were more concerning than even we expected."

Results include:

  • 75% say they've seen 'near misses', when a child is almost struck by a car.
  • 83% witness parents/guardians speeding in school zones.
  • 80% witness parents/guardians ignoring traffic signs and road rules.
  • 51% see hostile behavior from parents and guardians such as honking and using profanities.
  • 82% witness distracted driving by parents and guardians.
  • 88% see illegal parking by parents and guardians.

Parents and guardians are also making unsafe choices when it comes to school drop-off and pick-up. The school zone survey reveals many parents and guardians are dropping off and picking up their child in ways that put their kids at risk with 87 per cent seeing kids getting in and out of cars in undesignated areas such as double parked cars on the street.

The survey comments were rife with details about kids being dropped off outside of designated areas and running into oncoming traffic, kids darting out from in between cars and school buses and parents talking on cell phones and otherwise distracted. The assumption by both parents and school staff is that parents are rushed (75%) and running late (61%) with congestion in the school zone as another factor (71%).

Other motorists are also driving unsafely through school zones. The top three unsafe motorist behaviours seen by respondents are: speeding (94%), distracted driving (90%) and ignoring traffic signs and road rules (90%).

Survey participants would like to see all drivers near schools to reduce their speed, change their driving attitude and follow the school rules. Pettipas couldn't agree more.  "We understand that parents and guardians are busy and the survey wasn't intended to focus on anyone in particular. We appreciate the honesty of parents, guardians and school staff who participated," says Pettipas. "At least a problem has been highlighted which means we all can start working on solutions, starting with better driving behaviour by all drivers and safer choices by parents and guardians when it comes to dropping off and picking up their child."

BCAA emphasizes that all drivers follow the posted speed limit in school zones which is 30 km/hr. in most communities and recommends the following for parents and guardians:

  • Follow the school's drop-off and pick-up procedure which includes letting children in and out of the car at designated areas.
  • Teach children how to safely get in and out of the car, cross the street and walk or ride their bike to school.
  • Talk to your school and parent committee about ways to address congestion in your school zone. If the school already has drop-off and pick-up procedures in place meant to ease heavy traffic, follow those instructions.
  • Be patient and courteous to other parents and guardians, school staff, crossing guards and student safety patrollers. Reacting with extreme frustration may aggravate the situation and increase the risk of unsafe behaviours.

About the survey
Results are based on an online study conducted from August 29 to September 1, 2016, among a representative sample of 712 adults in British Columbia, including 301 who currently serve as principals, teachers or school staff at a British Columbia elementary school, and 411 parents or guardians who drop off and/or pick up a child from school. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error for the entire sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

About BCAA
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves one in three B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full auto service at BCAA's Auto Service Centres. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through safety programs such as its School Safety Patrol, Community Child Car Seat and most recently, BCAA Play Here which, in its first year, provided $260,000 to revitalize kids' play spaces in B.C..

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information or to interview Shawn Pettipas on this topic, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Communication Specialist, Office: 604-268-5342, Cell: 778-228-8859,

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