Traffic Safety Awarness
January 19th, 2018
Tragic Death of 5 Year Old Girl in Toronto
As you may already know, there was a tragic death of a 5 year old girl at a Toronto school Monday afternoon. This was as a result of an SUV pinning the girl and her father against another vehicle. This letter is meant to share some important information with you and to raise awareness and engagement on a problem that is on our minds every day.
This tragedy is a symptom of a bigger issue that exists at schools across Ontario – the volume of parents and caregivers driving their children to and from school. We are not sheltered or exempted from this problem, it has been an ongoing concern in our school community for many years. As you may know, Sandhills is considered a “walking school” which means that except in very special circumstances, the expectation is that students are walking to and from school each day. Many students and their caregivers do walk to Sandhills, but based on some informal polling done at Sandhills in the Fall, we estimate that approximately 50% of our students are driven to school daily.
Parents and caregivers choose to drive their children for a variety of reasons and we always assume that this comes from a place of good intent or a feeling of necessity. However, we witness every morning and every afternoon the sheer number of vehicles in our parking lot and around our school on neighboring streets. The congestion that this volume of traffic causes is one of the most significant hazards to our children’s’ safety. There are just too many vehicles. This means that even motorists following the rules of the road are in fact contributing to a potential danger as part of this congestion. This is not to mention the unsafe and illegal driving practices of some drivers who, for one reason or another, demonstrate little or no regard for the rules of the road, and the safety of our children. This may be a harsh statement, but sadly it is true, we have seen it many times. There have been several near misses and close calls at our school and at others in the Region as referred to by Sandhills’ own crossing guard in the news video linked below. We want to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy.
We are very appreciative and thankful to those of you who have embraced the value and benefits of walking your children to and from school; for those of you who have adjusted your work schedules to walk your children to and from school; for those of you who have partnered with other parents and take turns walking your children to and from school; for those of you who have taken advantage of our Walking School Bus and “Trailblazer” programs and having your children walk with them to and from school.
This letter is not meant to guilt, or shame anyone who drives their child to school regularly or from time to time. This letter is simply meant to raise awareness of one of the most significant safety concerns we deal with on a daily basis. It is also meant to encourage those who drive their children to Sandhills to reconsider this choice, and explore some of the incredible, and safe alternatives to driving that are available. We invite your participation in programs like the Walking School Bus, participating in Winter Walk to School Day on February 7th, and taking part in groups like our School Council to be part of the solution to this problem.
Below are links to a Toronto Star Article and a CTV News story shot outside Sandhills School recently.