ICBC, police and government join to help keep children safe on our roads

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September 2, 2011 – As summer vacations wrap up and children return to school next week, ICBC, police and the provincial government are reminding drivers to make smart decisions: plan ahead for more traffic, drive with extra caution, and watch for children, especially in or around school zones.

Every year in B.C., an average of 16,045 children aged five to 18 are involved in crashes, resulting in 5,215 injuries and 34 deaths.*

“We all need to do our part to keep students safe,” said Education Minister George Abbott. “School children will be everywhere in the coming days and every driver should step up their awareness and make sure they are paying attention at the wheel.”

“Crashes close to schools and parks are preventable,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’ve heard heart-breaking stories of children hurt and innocent lives lost. Let’s do our part to drive with more awareness and caution. Please slow down and pay attention to posted speed limits especially in playground or school zones.”

Chief Constable Jamie Graham, Traffic Committee Chair of the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) agrees, “We’re reminding drivers that it’s their responsibility to be alert, slow down and watch for children, especially near schools and playgrounds. Police across the province will be monitoring school zones to ensure our children get a safe start to the school year.”

Drivers are reminded that the 30-km/h school zone speed limit is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, unless otherwise posted. Fines for speeding in a school or playground zone range from $196 to $253. Drivers should also be aware that if they are caught speeding 40 km or more over the posted speed limit they will face a seven-day impoundment of their vehicle.

“We can all play an active role by making smart decisions – whether we’re driving, walking or cycling,” said Fiona Temple, ICBC’s Road Safety Director. “If you have children, go over the road safety rules and tips with them – make it a fun and interactive activity you can do together.”

Every year, ICBC invests in road safety to help reduce crashes and injuries, and save lives. In 2010, ICBC invested $46 million in road safety initiatives. This includes funding enhanced police enforcement, road improvements, educational resources, and advertising and awareness campaigns.

ICBC provides free road safety curriculum materials to schools across B.C., and last year, teachers ordered 2,400 packages. The materials are customized to each grade level and designed to promote road safety awareness among students. This year, ICBC is also running its second annual youth contest, “YOUR AD HERE,” offering high school students the opportunity to design a road safety ad to be featured on next year’s agendas.

ICBC road safety speakers also visit schools to educate young people about the risks of driving and, each year, share their personal stories with approximately 50,000 students across the province. Here are ICBC’s smart driving tips for drivers, parents and students:

Tips for parents and students

Post these safety tips somewhere in your home and review them with your children – even older children need to be reminded about road safety.

  • No. 1: Remove your headphones; put away your phone, MP3 player or other gadgets when crossing a street. Focus your full attention on the road.
  • No. 2: Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals. Make eye contact with drivers, so you both see each other. Teach your child to cross at intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible.
  • No. 3: Dress to be seen. Wear bright- or light-coloured clothing. In dark or bad weather, wear reflective material on clothes or accessories.
  • No. 4: Always walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk – away from the road. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles and drivers can see you.
  • No. 5: Be aware of parked vehicles in parking lots and on the road. Before crossing or walking through a parking lot, stop and look left-right-left around the parked vehicle and avoid taking unnecessary shortcuts through parking lots.

Teach children this catchy chorus from “Walk ‘n’ Roll,” a song by children’s musician Will Stroetexternal link, which is included in ICBC’s K-3 school curriculum:

  • Wear something bright
  • Look left and look right
  • Wait for the light
  • Make sure you’re in the driver’s eyesight

Tips for drivers

  • No. 1: Plan ahead and be alert. Driving routes with less traffic in the summer may now face congestion, so give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Look for children especially near or around crosswalks and intersections.
  • No. 2: Always yield to pedestrians – it’s the law.
  • No. 3: When dropping off children in a school zone, stop and allow them to exit on the side of the car closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.
  • No. 4: If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
  • No. 5: Always watch for pedestrians when you’re backing up. Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around your vehicle to ensure no small children are behind it. And remember, children notice your driving behaviour, so set an example and drive smart.

For more road safety tips, visit icbc.com and click on ‘road safety.’ To order ICBC’s free curriculum, go to icbc.com/4teachers.

*Annual crash and injury averages based on 2006 to 2010 data reported by ICBC. Annual fatal average based on 2005 to 2009 police-reported data. Data includes child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers.

About ICBC

ICBC serves 3.2 million customers in the province of British Columbia, Canada. ICBC licenses and insures drivers and vehicles across the province through its service centres, plus a network of more than 900 independent brokers and government agent offices. Claims customers are served through local offices and an award-winning Dial-a-Claim call centre. ICBC’s road safety investments help create safer roads, lead to fewer crashes, and help keep rates stable. To find out more, visit icbc.com.