Elementary Road Safety is a program designed to make school communities safer by implementing evidence-based solutions that will address issues within each community that adopts the program.

Every year in Canada, we see an average of: 

  • 20 child pedestrians killed
  • four child bicyclists killed
  • 1,000 child pedestrians injured
  • 600 child bicyclists injured 

Overall, pedestrian and bicycle-related injuries are among the leading causes of death and hospitalization for youth. Often, these preventable injuries take place near busy schools.

Adopting the Elementary Road Safety (ERS) program will equip you with the necessary tools to tackle and address school zone safety issues in your community. You will learn how to:

  • assess risks
  • facilitate community engagement with key stakeholders
  • identify and determine appropriate structural interventions.

The program outlines a set of steps and resources for communities that wish to improve safety in their school zones and increase the number of children walking, cycling, or wheeling to and from school. The program focuses on children under age 14, attending elementary school.

Watch our webinar School Zone Safety and COVID-19, presented July 15, 2020.

Create a safer school zone

Traffic congestion and unsafe driver behaviour are common in school zones during drop-off and pick-up times. These unsafe conditions can put children at risk, especially considering that young children may not always be aware of or cautious about their surroundings.

Given the worrisome number of child pedestrian and bicyclist injuries each year in Canada, parental fear of injury can influence decisions about whether or not they allow their child to walk or bike to school. Parents may instead opt to drive their children to school, not realizing that this in fact poses a higher risk, both from motor vehicle collisions as well as reducing their child’s physical activity. 

School communities must account for these safety issues, address parental fears and provide evidence-based solutions through education, traffic calming, built environment changes and enforcement. Adopt the Elementary Road Safety project to make your school zone safe while promoting physical activity for children. 

Why active transportation is important

Illustration of boy running with backpack on

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that Canadian youth get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day for optimal health. However, according to ParticipACTION, only 28 per cent of Canadian children and youth, aged 5 to 17, get that much physical activity daily. This is an issue because physical activity is required for:

  • a child’s mental and physical health
  • motor skills development
  • proper academic performance.

Only 25 per cent of children and youth aged 5 to 17 use “active transportation” – that is, walking, cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding, and running or jogging. Children who may be able to walk or ride their bikes to school are being dropped off in a motor vehicle, instead. We should promote active transportation to school as easy and fun to ensure children are meeting their daily physical activity guidelines and staying healthy.