As the long summer holidays draw to a close government road safety campaigns begin here in Canada reminding motorists that soon the roads will be full of commuting kids again, which got me thinking about the different approaches to road safety in England
I remember the green cross code being drummed into us as kids at school in England, the phrase ‘stop, look and listen’ being repeated so many times you couldn’t help but remember and obey the rules. The approach here in Canada is somewhat different with the onus being more on the motorist to yield to pedestrians.
The majority of kids use school buses for the school run, you know the big yellow ones that you see in the movies?! These buses have their own set of road safety rules. When they stop to pick up or drop off students they turn on flashing red light indicating that you must not pass and traffic in each direction comes to a halt. The students then, without hesitation, walk straight out in the road trusting that everyone has stopped. This regularly sends shivers down my spine and I still teach my kids to be responsible for their own safety by looking about and being aware of their own surroundings as it is all too easy to be involved in a road traffic accident. I always tell the boys not to assume that a motorist will stop even when they are supposed to, after all in a dispute between a car and a pedestrian the car is going to win regardless of who was in the right moral or legal position.
Canada is a very environmentally aware country that promotes cycling to school where possible. In complete contrast to the road safety laws it is a bylaw in many communities that you have to wear a helmet when cycling. This is a great help with teens and tweens who are often more concerned with their street cred than their safety.
Walking to school is also encouraged so as the boys go back to school I always buy coats or backpacks with reflective patches, they are easy to come by here. I think this is especially important as we go into the autumn term and the nights start to draw in. Remember – be safe, be seen!
Canadians have a very practical approach to most things including the fact that people often need to drive to school or work, so the very practical solution to this problem is the “kiss and Ride’. Kiss and ride areas are common in numerous situations such as schools and train stations. They are areas at the front of the building where you can drive up to drop someone off, these prove particularly useful during the winter when it’s -20C outside and the kids can go straight from the car into the school building avoiding both dangerous car park situations, crazy windchill and knee high snow!
We were given an excellent safety tip last year that I want to share with you all. Decide with your child on a secret password, a word that only your family knows so if you are running late or have an emergency situation and you need someone else to pick up your child for you, you give them the password so your child instantly knows they are safe to go with them.
Do you have any road safety tips you teach your kids?