Burnaby, British Columbia – While they’re meant to be safe, school zones can be one of the most dangerous places for a child to be a pedestrian, warns the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) Traffic Safety Foundation.

Research shows that most child pedestrian-related injuries occur in September and October, followed by May and June, with children aged five to 14 years at the greatest risk. The most frequently-reported action that results in injury or death is a child crossing at an intersection, followed by running onto the road. The majority of these occur in urban areas, but when a child is hit on a rural road, the result is more likely to be fatal due to higher vehicle speeds.

“Talking or texting on cell phones is also a safety risk for pedestrians,” said Linda Lawlor, School Safety Patrol program coordinator for the Foundation. Preliminary research with 10- and 11-year-old children provides strong evidence that talking on a cell phone while crossing a street increases a child’s risk of being struck by a vehicle by up to one-third. Researchers also speculate on the risks of using other devices, such as MP3 players or texting.

The biggest risk to children in school zones is still parents who make U-turns, stop in no-stopping zones, back up into crosswalks, roll through stop signs, ignore the school safety patrollers, speed, and let their children out on the driver’s side into oncoming traffic, the Foundation said. Most school zone speed limits are 30 km/h and are in effect weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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