QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 18, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - There's no age limit for learning good safety behaviours. That's the message CAA-Quebec has been passing on to its young school safety patrollers for more than 85 years now. And the organization is repeating it, loud and clear, to road users who continue—despite awareness campaigns and police dissuasion—to take risks and jeopardize children's safety.
"Parents are in such a rush. They drive really fast," says 11-year-old Sarah-Maude Gagnon, who is a safety patroller at Cœur-Vaillant school in the Quebec City suburb of Sainte-Foy. "As a patroller, my job is to help keep students safe, but sometimes it's the way parents drive that scares me, because they're going too fast."
In spite of campaigns about the issue, CAA-Quebec is still observing far too many traffic violations and risky behaviour near schools. Most troubling is the fact that it is often parents of young children who are seen failing to obey signage and other rules.
The CAA-Quebec school safety patrol program
Making school zones safer is the rationale for CAA-Quebec's promotion of school safety patrols. "Every year, some 350 schools offer our patrol program, relying on students in grades 4, 5 and 6. Around 5,000 kids are involved!" explains Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs. "They work on buses, in schoolyards and in pedestrian zones, depending on the specific needs of each establishment, and CAA-Quebec is there to guide and support them all year long."
The students taking part in the safety patrol program are dynamic and committed. They also have a well-developed sense of responsibility, as can be seen in a short video produced on the topic by CAA-Quebec.
"We've been a partner in this program since 1984 because we believe in its value," says Dave Leclerc, Vice-President, Public Affairs and Road Safety Strategy for the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec. "We believe that young people have a role to play both with their peers and their parents when it comes to prevention, to help make roads near schools safer. Our hope is that by gaining awareness of good behaviours right from primary school, they will grow up to be prudent, responsible and courteous road users, whether they are motorists, pedestrians or cyclists."
Back-to-school 2015: dangerous behaviours observed
To see whether road users' behaviours are any better near schools, CAA-Quebec's traffic safety experts observed their behaviours, as they do every year. Their findings, unfortunately, are cause for concern.
Speeding, failure to stop for school buses, and more…
On September 1, no fewer than 223 instances of speeding were noted in the vicinity of 6 schools in less than 2 hours. In addition, many parents are continuing to ignore the flashing lights on buses while children are disembarking. Some of the other dangerous behaviours observed included failing to cross the street safely at crosswalks, parking illegally (including on the sidewalk), which blocks safe access to the school, and reckless "obstacle-course" driving to reach school entranceways. Lastly, some parents neglect to fasten their children's seatbelts. The final tally: 557 violations or risky behaviours observed on the first day of school this year!
Parents not the only culprits
It turns out, though, that parents are not the only ones breaking traffic safety rules in school zones: the dangerous manoeuvres observed included three school buses driving above the speed limit near schools. Not to mention several motorists seen checking their cellphones… while exceeding the speed limit.
Cyclists are to blame as well: of 11 observed, 10 were riding the wrong way in one-way zones. That makes it difficult for cyclists and motorists to anticipate each other's movements and obey the highway safety code.
Complying with road safety regulations: it's everybody's business
In light of these observations, CAA-Quebec believes there must not only be greater surveillance, but also that everyone, including the drivers of tomorrow, should be taught best practices. These are the reasons why the organization gives priority to its school safety patrol program, which helps members of the public fully appreciate the importance of safe behaviours by all road users.
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1.2 million members. In 85 years of existence, the CAA-Quebec school safety patrol has raised the awareness of tens of thousands of young people about the importance of improving traffic safety.
For further information: Montreal: Anne-Sophie Hamel, Communications Advisor and Spokesperson, 514 861-7111, ext. 5478, Cell.: 514 717-4040, [email protected]; Quebec: Rébecca Salesse, Communications Advisor, 418 624-2424, ext. 6011, Cell. : 418 563-4590, [email protected]