QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 8, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - CAA-Quebec asked eight of its young school safety patrollers to take part in the organization's traditional annual school zone observation activity this past Wednesday. To say the least, the youngsters were not impressed with adult drivers. One of the patrollers, 6th-grader Alexis Plante, even said he'd like to give a few of them a piece of his mind.
Rolling through stop signs, driving too fast... this young student at école Cœur-Vaillant in the Sainte-Foy suburb of Quebec City observed plenty of risky behaviour around his school. "Sometimes, you just feel like telling them off," says Alexis, who is beginning his second year as a CAA-Quebec school safety patroller, which now has some 500 members. These youngsters assist the adult patrollers or are posted inside schools, in schoolyards and on school buses, among other locations.
What the young patrollers said:
"Safety is important because there can be serious consequences if we don't respect it. Follow the safety rules, as much for your own sake as for the sake of others."
– Gabrielle Charlebois, école des Bourlingueurs, Montreal
"Drivers need to be more careful. They're sometimes not even aware of it, but if they drive badly, children's safety and everyone's safety is at stake."
– Alexis Plante, école Cœur-Vaillant, Quebec City
"I'd like cars to be more careful and to stop at stop signs."
– Béatrice Nadeau, école Saint-Mathieu, Quebec City
"Please stop texting and driving, stop at the lines and fasten your seat belts."
– Ariane De Repentigny-Villarroel, école Saint-Jean-Vianney, Montreal
"Out of the mouths of babes, the truth! There is still too much risky behaviour in school zones, areas that are sensitive by definition," insists Sophie Gagnon, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs for CAA-Quebec. "So let's avoid distractions, obey traffic signs and ease up on the accelerator. The safety—the lives—of our children depend on it!"
In a Canada-wide survey conducted recently by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), fully 84% of parents questioned said they observed risky behaviours in school zones and 55% said they feel the problem is worsening.
861 risky behaviours observed
Early last Wednesday morning, CAA-Quebec traffic safety experts were posted around 12 schools located across Quebec. And despite their high visibility wearing large orange vests, they noted 861 risky or illegal behaviours. "If there had been a police officer here this morning, he would have handed out every ticket in his booklet," says CAA-Quebec Foundation Director Marco Harrison, who also took part in the activity. Of the 861 behaviours:
- 45%: Failure to obey traffic signage and unsafe manoeuvres
- 28%: Speeding
- 13%: Behaviour that put pedestrians and bicyclists at risk
- 10%: Lack of safety aboard a vehicle
- 3%: Distracted driving
- 1%: Behaviour that put a school bus at risk
It is also worrisome to note that:
- 26% of wrongful actions are committed by adults accompanying children (parents, grandparents, etc.).
- Many bicyclists display risky behaviours: speeding, failure to obey traffic signs, etc.
- The last moments before the school bell rings are the most chaotic. Why do people not give themselves a bit more time and avoid this stress?
Why 30 km/h in a school zone?
"There's a reason why the speed limit in school zones is 30 km/h," Mr. Harrison stresses. "The likelihood of a pedestrian hit by a car dying doubles with each 5 km/h increase in speed. At 60 km/h, the chances of survival are practically nil... and that's for an adult!" Despite this, police handed out more than 70,000 tickets for speeding in 30 km/h zones in 2015, a slight increase over the previous year.
On a more positive note, it also appears that schools that encourage their young pupils who are able to walk to do so, rather than travel by bus or car, experience less hectic rush periods. There are several solutions for helping schools promote walking or cycling. Why not start up a Trottibus (walking school bus), for instance?
The good news, if any, is that the CAA-Quebec observers noted no grossly reckless or aberrant conduct, as they have in the past. All the same, 861 risky actions around schools in less than an hour… Alex has plenty of reasons to want to give drivers a piece of his mind!
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides all of its members with peace of mind by offering them high-quality automotive, travel, residential and insurance benefits, products and services. As a leading advocate for road safety at every stage of life, its actions and services in this area include child car-seat verification clinics, a school safety patroller program, and awareness activities for seniors as well as secondary school students.
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