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Stay Alert

Mike Behan, Editor, Fort Frances Times Ltd.

With the new school year underway, morning and afternoon traffic has once again become a little more hectic in Fort Frances.
Buses picking up and dropping off children. Parents driving their kids to school. Students walking and biking to and fro, sometimes in groups. All of this can lead to potentially dangerous situations if people aren’t careful.
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Just as school kids have to adjust to going back to class, motorists must adjust to this extra traffic and make safety their number one priority by slowing down and perking up.
Thankfully, there are local groups working to remind the public. Most recently, the Fort Frances Active Transportation Committee, Safe Communities Rainy River District, and Town of Fort Frances worked together to develop a “community safety zone” along King’s Highway, from just west of the Fort Frances Cemetery to just west of the McIrvine Road intersection.
This zone, which is in effect each week day during the school year, is meant to raise awareness of the presence of pedestrians and cyclists, specifically students, crossing King’s Highway in that area.
While one might argue road safety is a two-way street, when it comes to youths, adult motorists should never assume they will act as an adult pedestrian might.
According to Safe Kids Canada, in order to cross a street independently and safely, children need three important skills: the ability to determine and use a safe crossing route; the capability to realistically assess a vehicle’s speed; and the cognitive means to judge safe gaps in traffic.
The catch is these skills are typically not acquired until between nine and 11 years of age. This means, according to Safe Kids Canada, “children are vulnerable to pedestrian injuries because they have not yet developed the cognitive and physical skills to cope with the many challenges of traffic.”
Safe Kids Canada also says more children acquire pedestrian-related injuries in the months of September and October.
Young students do learn about traffic safety in class, and hopefully, parents take time out to remind their kids to look both ways before crossing the street. But once those children are off to school, it’s ultimately those behind the wheel that have to watch their speed and pay attention.
Like Safe Kids Canada says, while the number of Canadian children injured or killed in pedestrian-related incidents continues to decline, “each fatality remains a tragedy.”

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