Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Road

Slow Down, Kids Playing

Sobering stats and Spring Break tips for parents and drivers

Released by Lennae Durant, BCAA

 

s spring break approaches, the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) reminds drivers to pay close attention to their surroundings when driving through areas where kids are likely to be present.

 

To help parents and other B.C. residents prepare for the increase in the presence of kids outdoors, BCAA is offering free “Slow Down, Kids Playing” signs that can be displayed on residential properties in order to help make roads safer for children across the province.

 

According to the BC Coroners Service, over 2,400 child pedestrians are seriously injured and approximately 30 are killed each year in Canada. Kids between 5 and 14 are at the greatest risk for pedestrian-related injuries and fatalities.

 

“As the weather warms up, more and more children venture outside to play in their front yards, on their streets and in neighbourhood playgrounds,” says Mark Donnelly, director of BCAA Communication and Community. “The ‘Slow Down, Kids Playing’ signs are a way of reminding drivers to pay close attention when driving through residential areas and near playgrounds and to expect the unexpected.”

 

In its efforts to improve road safety efforts, BCAA has identified two key areas of risk for child pedestrians: driver behavior – such as speeding, making U-turns, stopping in no-stopping zones, and rolling through or backing up into crosswalks – and pedestrian distraction, which include the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices.

 

A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham reports that children who talk on cell phones while crossing the street are up to one-third more likely to be hit or nearly hit by a car. Research from the Public Health Agency of Canada also indicates that up to 10 per cent of injuries to pedestrians under the age of 24 were the result of them running into the street without looking – for example, because they were running after a ball.

 

BCAA recommends that drivers, along with parents and guardians take the following precautions to ensure the safety of our kids during spring break and as we move into warmer weather.

 

Tips for drivers

 

·      Slow down and watch out for kids – in or near school and residential areas, intersections and crosswalks, and be prepared to stop.  Look for clues such as “Slow Down, Kids Playing” signs, School Zone signs, BCAA School Safety patrollers, bicycles, and playgrounds.

 

·     Expect the unexpected – such as kids darting out from between parked cars. Always check for pedestrians when you’re backing up, and be aware that kids could be present on any side of the vehicle.

 

 

·     Follow the rules of the road – yield to pedestrians and do not make U-turns, roll through stop signs or stop in no-stopping zones.

 

 

Tips for parents/guardians

 

·     Teach your kids to find a safe place to cross the road – such as patrolled or marked crosswalks. Make sure they look both ways and make eye contact with drivers before they cross the street.

 

·     Make it a rule for kids to stay off their cell phones or electronic devices while crossing the street – make sure they focus on the road and surrounding environment.

 

·     Teach your kids to look out for parked cars – as cars may pull out or start moving when they don't expect it.

 

·     Make sure your kids wear bright or reflective clothing – so they can be seen in the dark or in poor weather. If they ride a bike, make sure they always wear a helmet and clothing with reflective strips. Equip their bike with lights, reflectors and a bell.

 

The “Slow Down, Kids Playing” signs are free of charge for BCAA Members and other B.C. residents. The signs are available at any of BCAA’s 27 Service Locations throughout the province. Visit bcaa.com/kidsplaying for a list of locations.

 

 

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