More Parents in British Columbia Are Driving Aggressively in School Zones

BCAA asks parents to make a “new school year” resolution to improve driving habits

Burnaby, BC – BCAA’s second annual School Zone Safety survey, conducted by Insights West, shows that driving in school zones has gone from bad to worse in British Columbia. In fact, this year’s survey shows a marked increase in concern across the board. Particularly alarming is that hostile/aggressive attitudes amongst parents—such as honking or using profanities—has jumped from 51% to 66%.

Last year, Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement called school zones the “wild west”. Shocked by this year’s results, Pettipas is more determined than ever to get parents (the worst offenders) to make—and keep—a “new school year” resolution to improve their driving habits.

“We asked over 300 school faculty and staff and over 400 parents or guardians what they’re seeing in their school zones, and it’s very concerning to see that unsafe driving in school zones has increased,” says Pettipas. “There’s no excuse for hostile behaviour and breaking traffic rules. Parents and motorists have to start driving safely, we don’t want someone to get hurt.”

In addition to more hostile/aggressive attitudes, BCAA’s School Zone Safety survey also reveals an increase in unsafe driving behaviours and ignoring traffic rules amongst parents and guardians dropping off or picking up their children: More than four-in-five witness parents not following rules of the road, including not stopping at a marked crosswalk (82%) or driving over the speed limit (93%). Distracted driving has also increased and remains high (from 82% last year to 86% in 2017).

Shawn, a parent himself, understands how stressful school zone driving can be. “We appreciate the honesty of parents and guardians who participated in the survey and shared what they’ve been witnessing in their school zones,” says Pettipas. “Because parents and guardians are in school zones every day, improving safety in school zones can really start with them, and the first step is to improve their driving habits and keep the right attitude.”

BCAA provides tips for parents and motorists to help make school zones safer:

1. Avoid running late. A great deal of stress arises from feeling rushed. Give yourself plenty of time in the morning and consider completing tasks and preparing your child’s school items the night before.

2. Focus on what you can control. No matter what’s going on around you, be patient and courteous. Reacting with extreme frustration may aggravate the situation and increase the risk of unsafe behaviours.

3. Follow the rules. This includes school drop off and pick up procedures and rules of the road, such as driving within the speed limit, stopping at marked cross walks and not driving distracted. If everyone follows the rules, problems and misunderstandings are less likely to occur.

4. Pay close attention while driving. Expect the unexpected and look out for safety risks such as kids darting from cars, along with kids who are cycling and other pedestrians.

5. Reduce congestion. Consider walking or cycling your child to school or park a few blocks away and walk your child the rest of the way to school.

When it comes to rules of the road, BCAA reminds drivers of sections within the BC Motor Vehicle Act which address common driving mistakes made in school zones:

• Speeding. The school zone speed limit is 30 km/hr between 8AM-5PM on school days unless otherwise posted. In playground zones, a 30 km/hr speed limit is in effect from dawn to dusk, 365 days of the year.

• Crosswalks. Drivers must stop for pedestrians crossing the road at a crosswalk. The best and safest rule is for drivers to stop once they see a pedestrian standing on the curb at a crosswalk and to wait for as long as it takes for all pedestrians to reach the curb on the other side.

• Crossing guards/patrollers. Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists must follow the instructions of a school crossing guard or student patroller.

• Distracted driving. Using an electronic device while driving, including holding the device in a position in which it may be used, is considered to be distracted driving and is against the law. For parents and guardians dropping off or picking up their child from school, BCAA recommends they avoid using their cell phone altogether within a school zone, even when their car is parked and idling at the curb.

But the onus is not entirely on drivers. It’s also important for pedestrians and cyclists to follow the rules of the road. BCAA recommends that parents teach their kids how to walk or cycle safely near or on the road.

Visit bcaa.com/blog to learn more about school zone safety.

About the survey

Results are based on an online study conducted from July 15 to July 21, 2017, among a representative sample of 720 adults in British Columbia, including 307 who currently serve as principals, teachers or school staff at a British Columbia elementary school, and 413 parents or guardians who drop off and/or pick up a child from school. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error for the entire sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.7 percentage points. View the detailed data tabulations.

About BCAA

The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full auto service at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through community programs such as its School Safety Patrol, Community Child Car Seat Program and BCAA Play Here. Please visit bcaa.com.

For further information or to interview Shawn Pettipas on this topic, please contact:

Niela Melanio
BCAA Communication Specialist
Office: 604-268-5342
Cell: 778-228-8859
niela.melanio@bcaa.com

Examples of common driving offences and fines