New BCAA survey shows heightened fears around distracted driving in school zones as kids head back to class this fall
Burnaby, B.C., September 1, 2021 – The latest annual BCAA Back to School Driving Survey reveals that most British Columbians (68%) expect school zones to be more chaotic as people get used to new drop-off and pick-up routines. And nearly half (48%) believe that school zones will be more dangerous this year due to distracted driving, as many parents have more on their minds, adding worries about COVID-19 on top of the usual back to school rush.
The BCAA Survey conducted by Insights West reveals significant concern that parents will be too distracted to drive safely in school zones when kids return to classrooms after Labour Day. Notably, of those surveyed, half (50%) say that parents will be more distracted than usual as they adjust to different work schedules and arrangements. With many parents currently working remotely, there’s more potential for distractions behind the wheel, like checking emails or taking a work call while driving.
“Back to school is always a frenzied time of year, but this year, many parents are thinking through new work schedules, new school drop-off and pick-up routines and COVID worries, which is a lot to distract them from driving safely,” says BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement, Shawn Pettipas. He adds that 68% of British Columbians already witnessed dangerous distracted driving in school zones before the pandemic. “This year, understandably with everything that parents are dealing with, we’re worried that there will be a lot more preoccupied, stressed parents dropping off and picking up their kids.”
The BCAA Survey confirms that most British Columbians have become accustomed to seeing poor driving in school zones in pre-pandemic times, with 75% witnessing speeding, 59% seeing aggressive driving, and 68% noting parent drivers not stopping at marked crosswalks. Pettipas is worried about the impact on school zone safety this September from the extra pressure felt by parents.
As a parent himself, Pettipas understands those extra pressures all too well. “I definitely feel myself juggling more stresses and worries this back-to-school season than before. It’s so easy to say it, but we all work hard to keep our kids safe, and we need to find a way to stay extra focused behind the wheel.” He adds that on average, 72 schoolchildren in BC are injured by vehicles in school or playground zones every year.
Pettipas offers advice to help parents drive safely during those first weeks back:
- Build extra time into your daily routine to prevent rushing - the root of many poor driving behaviours.
- Know the school’s drop-off and pick-up procedures.
- Pay close attention to all traffic rules.
- Reduce congestion by parking and walking your children into the school zone.
“Staying calm, allowing yourself more time and understanding that others have a heavy mental load too, can go a long way to getting kids to and from school safely as we navigate this difficult year,” says Pettipas.
For school zone safety tips for parents go to bcaa.com/schoolzone.
About the Back to School Driving Survey
Results based on an online study conducted from August 18 to 21, 2021 among a representative sample of 830 adults in British Columbia, which includes 701 drivers and 104 parents of elementary or middle school. The margin of error for this data —which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.
For further information or to set up an interview, please contact:
BCAA Senior Communication Manager
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