Parents warned of dangers during school pick-up, drop-off times

Toronto researchers have counted more than 400 incidents of motor vehicle collisions involving children near schools over a 12-year-period, prompting a warning to parents to be careful while picking up and dropping off their kids and to consider walking them instead.

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The study’s authors collected data on dangerous driving behaviours around 118 schools and found at least one problem at 88 per cent of the schools. They also found more than 411 reports of motor vehicle collisions involving children within 200 metres of schools, 45 of which happened during pick-up and drop-off times. Twenty-nine of the collisions sent children to hospital emergency rooms.

York University researcher Linda Rothman told CTV News Channel that the driving witnessed around schools is “atrocious” and that parents “do all kinds of crazy things.”

Rothman said the three most common dangerous behaviours they saw were parents dropping their kids off on the opposite side of the road to the school and then letting them jaywalk, followed by parents in vehicles blocking the view of pedestrians and other cars and double-parking.

But better driving isn’t the only way to reduce the injuries, Rothman said.

“Children should be walking to school as much as possible, to decrease traffic congestion around schools,” she said.

In addition, school boards can make things safer by adding designated car drop-of areas and crosswalks, Rothman said.

Dr. Andrew Howard, a senior scientist and orthopaedic surgeon at SickKids, agreed that changes to the built environment are needed.

“We urge that collision prevention approaches should include strategies to change the physical traffic environment, provide police enforcement and education to promote active transport to schools to reduce dangerous driving behavior,” Howard said in a statement.

The study is published online in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.



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