Education Minister Rachna Singh said British Columbians have a responsibility to keep children safe with the return of school.
“There has never been a more important time for drivers to slow down and pay attention,” Singh said Tuesday. Distracted driving, excessive speeding and passing school buses are dangerous driving behaviours, which can have major consequences, she added.
“Give yourself extra time, traffic is more congested right now and it’s best to plan (for) extra drive time,” she said. “Slow down and obey signs.”
Statistics from ICBC show crashes injure 51 children every year in school and playground zones.
Most of these crashes injuring children in school and playground zones — 35 — happen in the Lower Mainland, followed by Vancouver Island with seven, the Southern Interior with six and North Central B.C. with three.
Overall, crashes kill three and injure 359 children while they are walking or cycling every year.
These appeals from Singh came as she was visiting a school in Delta, whose Chief Constable Neil Dubord used the occasion to stress the collective responsibilities of adults.
“Every child we see walking or biking to school relies on us, the adults, the drivers to be their eyes and ears to anticipate their actions and to act with the utmost of confidence and caution,” Dubord said.
He added that school zones are what he called “sacred” grounds.
“The school zone isn’t just a stretch of road with a different speed limit,” he said. “It’s a promise with make to our children that their safety is paramount. When we speed, when we park recklessly and when we ignore a flashing yellow light, we just don’t break a traffic rule. We break that promise.”
Unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on every school day. A 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk in playground zones.
ICBC said in a release that distracted and inattentive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists.
Dubord emphasized this point in his remarks. “Every second our eyes break, every moment our focus shifts, we gamble with lives,” he said.
Crash and injury data are five-year averages based on 2018 to 2022 data reported by ICBC. Regional totals may not add up to the provincial total due to rounding. Fatal averages and averages for injuries in school and playground zone are based on 2017 to 2021 police-reported data.