School drop-off and pick-up is usually a chaotic mess of cars, kids and short-fused tempers. Some parents wouldn't think twice about making some questionable driving choices in order to get their kids to class on time. But those fast and furious moves are putting our kids at risk, according to new research from Toronto's York University and The Hospital for Sick Children.
York University lead researcher Linda Rothman and her team collected data on driving behaviours around 188 Toronto schools over a 12-year period, and found there were more than 400 non-fatal collisions involving children near schools. Almost no school was immune—the study found there was at least one dangerous driving accident at 88 percent of the schools. You can read the full study online in the Traffic Injury Prevention journal.
I know I'm guilty of sometimes making poor last-minute decisions while rushing my kids to school. And, as a casual observer, I would say the majority of parents make bad driving decisions at one time or another. The three most common bad behaviours, according to Rothman: letting kids jaywalk after dropping them off on the opposite side of the road (I’ve done that), being double-parked (check) and blocking the view of pedestrians with your car.
Obviously, we all need to be more careful behind the wheel. However, better driving isn't the only solution. Rothman suggests school boards add designated car drop-off areas and more crosswalks. If possible, walk your kids to school instead of driving them. According to a 2007–2008 child pedestrian injury report from Parachute Canada, car accidents are the number one cause of injury-related death for Canadian children under the age of 14. It states that a greater number of pedestrians in the vicinity actually heightens driver awareness, which results in fewer injuries. However, some parents feel that driving their kids to school is safer than letting them walk.
I'll admit, this research made me think twice about my own behaviour. I'm going to make sure my kids walk to school more often with their friends. Despite the volume of bad drivers out there, walking is the safest—not to mention the healthiest—way for your kids to get to and from school.