Wednesday, June 4, 2008

School speed limits

A recent study has come out from a national safety organization, which found that a child hit by a car traveling 30 km/hr has a 95% chance of survival, whereas the same child (size, weight, etc.) hit by a car traveling at 50 km/hr has an 80% chance of dying.

Many other jurisdictions have reduced speed limits, including Sherwood Park, Calgary and St. Albert. CBC Radio recently did a piece on this and found that Sherwood Park has successfully enforced the 30 km/hr speed limit with photo radar and has seen a dramatic reduction in speeding around schools.

The City of Edmonton bases its decision to remove reduced speed limits around schools on research (see below) which may pre-date the use of photo radar and may not take into consideration how different Edmonton is in 2008 compared to 1970. Now we have greatly increased traffic congestion and, (it seems to me), more harassed, lead-footed, distracted drivers. Streets around schools are clogged with parents dropping off their kids and then rushing to work, often making phone calls en route.

Although, we've been fortunate so far and there have only been near-misses at school crosswalks, I don't want to wait until a tragedy happens to encourage change. Let's protect our most vulnerable and treasured resource and make walking to school a safe option. I believe a joint effort between schools, school boards, parents, the police, the city and AMA can make this happen.

FYI: This is from an Edmonton Public report- Dec 2004:

ADDRESSING TRAFFIC CONCERNS AROUND SCHOOL SITES: Roadway traffic and pedestrian controls and signage are the responsibility of the City of Edmonton Transportation and Streets Department. The district relies on the expertise of the city transportation engineers regarding traffic and pedestrian safety. School zones, which operate with a 30 Km/h reduced speed limit during school hours, have not been used in the City of Edmonton since the early 1970’s. These zones were removed based on a city study indicating that the zones gave children a false sense of security and that motorists did not adhere to the lower speed limits. As an alternative, the major crossing points in school areas are highlighted and the students are taught safe methods of crossing the road that are beneficial in pedestrian situations.

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