QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 13, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of its annual observation operation in elementary school zones, CAA-Quebec decided to talk this year to the adult safety patrollers who help the children every day...and they painted a very disturbing picture! Failure of motorists to stop at red lights and to obey patrollers, excessive speeding - even behaviours that endanger the safety of the patrollers themselves and the children - were the main traffic safety abuses.
A video compilation of these findings and many other powerful images is available on the CAA-Quebec website(in French only), on its Facebook page as well as on other social media. CAA-Quebec put together this unique video to give a voice to the patrollers, who are first-hand witnesses to road users' behaviours in the different school zones on the Island of Montreal. In a bid to ensure that this reality is properly documented, CAA-Quebec sent its road safety experts to the locations to observe the various behaviours and, consequently, better understand the concerns raised by the safety patrollers. CAA-Quebec wishes to raise public awareness regarding the importance of respecting school zones.
Disturbingly aggressive behaviour
Some of the statements gathered by CAA-Quebec highlighted extremely disturbing behaviours. "Some motorists are very aggressive; they yell at me to get off the road. They don't care about other users and pay no attention to the traffic lights," said one crossing guard stationed along a very busy street in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough of Montreal. "Some are even worse; they don't care about the children around them. I also have to deal with many cyclists who regularly violate the Highway Safety Code. I worry about the children; sometimes, I even fear for my own safety. I need to have eyes in the back of my head."
Observations that support the patrollers' reports
This is the fifth edition of this annual exercise and this year, CAA-Quebec focused on the six schools where the patrollers interviewed are stationed. Unfortunately, the observers saw too many violations and risky behaviours. These actions included motorists failing to respect the four flashing red lights on a school bus (which carries a minimum fine of $200 and 9 demerit points against the driver's record), exceeding the 30-km/h speed limit (in some cases by as much as 20 km/h, which is a major difference in such a high-risk area) and lastly, many motorists ignoring red lights.
The importance of assessing driving behaviour
Yvon Lapointe, Director of CAA-Quebec's Road Safety Education department and of the CAA-Quebec Foundation, believes that all road users have to take a closer look at their own driving habits and stop blaming others, which was one of the findings of the study titled Road Safety (or Lack Thereof) in the Public Mind in Quebec: Key Findings conducted by the CAA-Quebec Foundation in 2012.
"The Foundation's study reminded us - and rightly so - that we always think we drive better than others," according to Mr. Lapointe. "By giving the adult patrollers a voice, we hope to prompt people to think a minute about their own actions. We would have a better traffic safety record if all road users took a critical look at their behaviour behind the wheel, on bicycles or on foot. Even better, we would feel much safer on the roads and even more of us would allow our children to walk to school."
Other striking examples
Some parents let their children off outside the special school drop-off zones during peak traffic hours, others make illegal lane changes in the middle of these high-risk areas and some double and even triple park. In one instance, CAA-Quebec's experts had to remind a parent that his car was still moving after he and his child had stepped out of the vehicle!
This operation was made possible with the participation of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), more specifically Louise Bonneau, Lieutenant Advisor, Traffic Safety, SPVM; Marie-Soleil Cloutier, assistant professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), as well as the invaluable co-operation of the adult school safety patrollers on the island of Montreal.
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1,230,000 members.
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