Keeping Niagara’s School Zones Safe

Troubling research increases concerns over dangerous driving

New findings from a CAA National study show an increase in parents reporting dangerous driving behaviours in school zones. Sixty percent of parents say they have seen an increase in unsafe driving practices in school zones in the last two years, up from only forty percent in 2017. 

CAA Niagara conducted a morning survey during the first week of school to find out just how many dangerous driving infractions can be spotted on local roads. Representatives from the club observed a school zone outside a St. Catharines high school. In the span of 30 minutes, surveyors reported 37 violations - one violation per minute. - a third of the infractions were speeding while another third were eating while driving. Other dangerous behaviours included texting and driving, failing to use signals and illegal lane changes. 

“It’s eye-opening to say the least,” said Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara. “Every one of these dangerous behaviours is putting our children at risk.”

With a third of parents driving their children to school each morning, CAA Niagara wants to remind motorists that keeping our roadways safe should remain top of mind. One of the most common reasons for dangerous driving behaviour in school zones is parents feeling hurried or rushed, which can result in driving above community speed limits to make it to work or school on time. 

“With summer wrapping up and thousands of students back in school, local roadways are becoming more congested,” added Mr. Van Hezewyk. “Which is why it’s more important then ever to give yourself plenty of time in the morning and to focus on safe driving.”

CAA Niagara recommends six ways motorists can keep roadways safe this school year: 

Give yourself time:Being on the road a couple minutes earlier can help you get the kids to school with time to spare, reducing the temptation to engage in dangerous driving habits. 

Make eye contact with children:With the excitement of back to school, anticipate that children may not easily see or hear your moving vehicle. Make eye contact with passing pedestrians and cyclists so you know they see you.

Reduce traffic by walking: Incorporate a short walk into your commute to school. CAA encourages parents to park a block away and walk to school to reduce congestion and make school zones safer.

Slow down:Know the speed limit in your neighbourhood’s school zones and respect them.

Watch for school buses:Always stop for the buses’ flashing lights and wait for children to get safely on or off. Stay alert and watch for children or parents crossing the road when the bus moves on.

Choose a safe spot to drop off and pick up your children from school:Follow your school’s rules and don’t park illegally - it can put your child’s safety at risk. Instead, use the designated drop off areas or consider a spot a bit farther away from school that is easily accessible and safe.

More safe driving information can be found online at www.caaniagara.ca/roadsafety 

Founded in 1911 as the St. Catharines Automobile Club with just 16 members, CAA Niagara has grown to more than 136,000 members with five Niagara locations; St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold and Grimsby. A not-for-profit membership organization, CAA Niagara provides emergency road services, travel, insurance and member rewards.