Driv­ers and stu­dents: Be safe out there!

Truro Daily News - - SALTWIRE WHEELS - RICHARD RUS­SELL WHEELS

It is hard to be­lieve but sum­mer is all but over and school has started for mil­lions of Cana­dian chil­dren.

With that comes re­spon­si­bil­ity for mo­torists to add an­other page to their “watch list” — stu­dents go­ing to/from school whether by foot, bus, per­sonal ve­hi­cle or other means.

Most com­mu­ni­ties will no­tice an im­me­di­ate uptick in traf­fic with school back in ses­sion. An ever-grow­ing num­ber of stu­dents have their own ve­hi­cle — or ac­cess to a fam­ily ve­hi­cle and that in it­self changes the traf­fic en­vi­ron­ment.

Not only will they add to num­bers, the ma­jor­ity of them will be dis­tracted and many will be in­ex­pe­ri­enced. The dis­trac­tion will come in many forms, rang­ing from ex­cite­ment and friends in the car to where to park and whether or not they are wear­ing the right clothes.

Be pre­pared to cut th­ese young driv­ers some slack as they get into a new rou­tine and gain the ex­pe­ri­ence nec­es­sary to drive safely.

At the other end of the stu­dent age range are the wee ones — off to school for the first or per­haps se­cond time. Ex­cite­ment can be de­fined by this group — as well as fear. But all will be dis­tracted and whether get­ting in or out of a bus or car, the last thing most will do is check for traf­fic.

Ev­ery year we hear of chil­dren be­ing struck my mo­torists and, while the ma­jor­ity of th­ese in­ci­dents re­sult in mi­nor in­juries, some are not and all are trau­matic for both driver and child.

In the days be­fore school goes in, look for new school zone or cross­ing signs on routes you travel fre­quently. It is pos­si­ble a new school has been opened or park­ing and ac­cess to an old school changed.

Cross­ing guards will pop up in new places and a wary eye is needed to look well down the road and not only see them but pre­pare to stop ac­cord­ingly.

We are all aware of a cer­tain group of driv­ers who are ei­ther com­pletely blind, in such a hurry or so im­por­tant they don’t feel the need to share the road with oth­ers or fol­low the rules. Ev­ery cross­ing guard and bus driver has a raft of sto­ries about close-calls in­volv­ing th­ese driv­ers.

It is one thing to loose your con­cen­tra­tion for a mo­ment and no­tice a child, bus, sign etc. at the last mo­ment. It is quite an­other, and in my mind crim­i­nal, to de­lib­er­ately ig­nore the safety of oth­ers and rush through a cross­ing, pass a bus while chil­dren are get­ting on or off or oth­er­wise put pedes­tri­ans at risk be­cause you can’t be both­ered to slow or stop.

Thank­fully, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials share that be­lief and are be­com­ing in­creas­ing vig­i­lant in this re­spect.

But whether you are a driver or not, par­ents also play a sig­nif­i­cant role in teach­ing chil­dren safe habits.

How many times have you watched a par­ent take a child by the hand and cross a street be­tween in­ter­sec­tions, a short dis­tance from a marked, signed and sig­nalled cross­walk? That child au­to­mat­i­cally as­sumes it is OK to do so, to ig­nore the ar­eas des­ig­nated for their safe pas­sage, he or she has ef­fec­tively been trained to ig­nore one of the most ba­sic traf­fic safety rules.

Most of us have “cross only at cross­walks,” “look both ways be­fore cross­ing the street” and “don’t cross be­tween parked cars” drilled into our ba­sic thought process. But some do not and they are pass­ing this dan­ger­ous lack of sense along to an­other gen­er­a­tion.

As par­ents, we try to teach our chil­dren the safe way and lo­ca­tion for cross­ing streets, and the wis­dom of mak­ing sure driv­ers see them and are go­ing to stop. “Point, pause and pro­ceed” a mantra for the lit­tle ones. As driv­ers have to not only be wary at marked ar­eas, but in be­tween as well, espe­cially where lines of sight are poor. And of course, re­gard­less of weather, park well back from cross­ings.

Roughly 20-25 per cent of driv­ing-age adults have chil­dren in the school sys­tem. They can be ex­pected to be aware of stu­dents, schools, buses, and cross­ing guards. But that leaves 75 per cent or more of driv­ers un­aware of the is­sue, and in need of ex­tra vig­i­lance.

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Roughly 20-25 per cent of driv­ing-age adults have chil­dren in the school sys­tem. They can be ex­pected to be aware of stu­dents, schools, buses, and cross­ing guards. But that leaves 75 per cent or more of driv­ers un­aware of the is­sue, and in need of ex­tra vig­i­lance.

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