Back to school signs
The seasonal signs are everywhere. Days shorten, summer vacations come to an end, and sales on backpacks, sneakers abound. Yes, the back-to-school season is upon us. Some of you may be sad, some are excited about to be starting a new school year, or at least wearing your new shoes.
Regardless of how you feel about this time of year, we believe it is the most important time to remind everyone on the road to Be Alert, especially around schools. After a summer break, everyone needs a bit of time to settle in or adjust to new routines. Protecting school-age pedestrians and cyclists using our roads is something everyone can learn to do.
Time to begin a Be Alert routine
Even if you or your kids are not at school, September sort of feels like a new beginning for everyone. We suggest it is a great time to make a back-to-school new year’s road resolution: Be Alert.
No surprise it happens every year: back-to-school means you can expect traffic congestion around schools to intensify. School buses return to the road. Teachers are back at work and children begin their daily commute, assisted by crossing guards armed with STOP signs and reflective neon vests.
But that has not been enough to prevent pedestrian and cyclists injury.
That is why you might see more School Crossing signs, and freshly painted and larger zebra stripes in school zones. Many schools have their own traffic calming teams, and actively urge parents to skip the drop off, and get their kids to walk or bike to school instead.
Parents may resist because they are challenged to get everyone out the door on time, or may be worried about their child’s safety. Municipalities and school administrators and Vision Zero advocates know this, and are taking action.
Reduced speed is part of the solution
Slowing vehicles down is key to reduce injury, according to city traffic planners and urban planning experts. In the Globe and Mail article, “Experts weigh in on the easiest way to make the streets safer” journalist Jason Tchir sought out advice for what could be done. Reduced speed was clearly part of it.
The number one thing is to reduce speed limits. In a place like Toronto, you need sensors on the damned roads, said Richard Florida, professor and director of cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto Rotman School of Management in the Globe & Mail article.
Some municipalities have done just that. Adding new sensor technology to enforce speed and traffic rules to make roads safer. Installing new “Your Speed” signs, which read and light up as vehicles pass is a new tool in traffic calming. Transportation officials call them “driver feedback signs”.
New Safer School Zones Act
Alerting drivers to how fast they are going is somewhat effective in changing driving behaviour voluntarily. Automated tickets are for those who ignore signs and speed anyway. In Ontario, Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act, 2017, allows municipalities to put an “automated enforcement system” in community safety zones. A speed sensor and camera identify offenders. You get a ticket in the mail.
Imminent provisions of this provincial legislation will allow municipalities to begin using this new tool to improve safety around schools.
As part of #VisionZeroTO, The City of Toronto has plans to initiate an automated enforcement system, and expects to add 50 cameras by the end of 2019. Mayor John Tory is committed since the data from last September to December monitoring eight schools across the city showed rampant speeding.
Excessive speed is one of the leading contributing factors to traffic related injuries, influencing both the risk of a collision as well as the severity of the injuries that result from collisions. City of Toronto, Automated Speed Enforcement Update, June 26, 2019
At first, offending drivers will receive a warning letter. In 2020, the City projects a startling 209,000 speeding tickets could be issued. That is a lot of drivers who need to slow down.
To get an “A” in pedestrian and cyclist safety, reducing speed is key. Learning to Be Alert and slowing down in school zones is something drivers can do voluntarily. Otherwise you are putting kids at risk and deserve an “F” in road safety. You might get a detention in the form of a hefty speeding ticket in the mail. You could also fail in a much more serious way.
Let’s all play a part in student safety and success
Education is among society’s most lofty and universally beneficial goals. Making it to and from school safely is something students, teachers and all of us can learn to do. Let’s make this happen this school year.
To raise awareness, improve visibility and to reduce the risk for vulnerable road users, Trimtag Trading Inc. created our own Be Alert! road safety products. Our high-visibility and reflective woven decals and stickers are easy to apply to bike helmets, backpacks, and clothing and vehicle windows, even drive thru containers. Our program aims to encourage awareness and active attention to road safety, especially for the most vulnerable road users: children, pedestrians and cyclists. See our Be Alert products here, or contact us about a custom program for your own safety program.