I suppose the title of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post is slightly misleading. It may suggest that I, Brian Goldfinger, am going back to school. While this sounds like a great and enlightening idea, I am not going back to school.
Rather, this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post will deal with Brian Goldfinger’s observations on students returning to school earlier this week.
My children began school on the Tuesday after labour day. Other began school on Wednesday, September 7th. Older university students got settled in their dorms and residences over the Labour Day Long Weekend.
It’s amazing the differences that we see on the roads from when school is taking place, to when school is out for the summer.
Whether it’s cars, buses, pedestrians or cyclists; we see a lot more people on our roads and on our sidewalks. More traffic means greater concentration of people, density and increased chance of accident or collision
Excited Students (and Parents!)
The first day of school is exciting for students, and for parents as well. It’s a hard transition going from your summer routine, back to the school routine. This can leave our attention divided or compromised. It’s important on your commute to/from school to stay focused on your surroundings.
Regrettably, our attention has become more divided and compromised over the years. This is in large part due to smartphones which are attention grabbing machines. Smartphones detract our attention from the road or from our immediate surroundings by through beeps, rings, vibration or simple addiction to checking things out online. As pedestrians and as motorists, we can’t give in to the temptation of being distracted by our smartphones and need to stay present; and in the moment. One second you are looking down at your smartphone, the next second you are down for the count. There is a time and place for the smartphone. The commute to/from school is neither that time, nor place. The safety of our children is far too important to check out who liked our last post on Instagram.
One the topic of assume that people don’t see you is a common occurrence for people who walk to/from school. Assume that people who are backing out of their driveway don’t see you walking behind their car. Because more often than not, they don’t! This is particularly concerning for young children, who are smaller than grown adults and not as easily seen walking behind a car.
Having young children myself, you also cannot assume that children know when a car is about to back up from their driveway and potentially run over your child. It’s as if children are drawn to cars which are backing out from their driveway. Parents need to pay particular attention to this. You also have to take into consideration that the motorist is likely in a hurry needing to get to work, or get their own children to school. The motorist is probably not thinking about pedestrian traffic at that early morning hour on the sidewalk. The motorist also likely can’t see your kid out of any of their mirrors because they are so small.
The problem gets even WORSE in the winter when there is an accumulation of snow, large snow banks and when rear view cameras and mirrors are covered in snow and ice. These are big safety concerns which only get more difficult to deal with as the school year moves forward in to the winter months ahead. So keep this in the back of your mind as the year progresses.
Everyone is in a Rush with Somewhere they need to be!
Schools are open again! That means that students need to get to class for in person learning. They don’t want to be late. In their haste, they may not be paying the best attention. Or their grown up chaperones may be driving a bit quickly because they are running late. The same applies at the end of the day. Everyone wants to get home quickly. They may have to get to soccer or hockey practice. Either way, people are rushing to school, and rushing home from school. Neither of these is a recipe for safety on our streets. Take a pause. Take a breath. You will get home. Get home safely and be conscious and courteous to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. It’s important that we all learn to share the roads again.
Learning to Share Public Spaces (like Road and Sidewalks)
One of the hidden consequences we don’t discuss is that we forgot how to share public spaces. During the Pandemic, we were all accustom to being locked up inside of our homes. The streets were bare. Traffic was low. There were few shoppers at the mall or at retail stores because they were either locked down, had capacity restrictions, or people were ordering things online as oppose to going in to the store itself. Now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted, more people are out and about. And since that time, there has been an influx of calls from prospective clients on assault matters (because we forgot how to interact with each other and share public space). Or perhaps we had a lot of pent up energy, angst and anger which we needed to let loose of. Either way, we have to get back to sharing public space because we aren’t interacting strictly over Zoom anymore. The same goes for sharing the roads between cars, cyclists and pedestrians. Our morning commute is getting back to what it used to be (for better or for worse). Our driving habits and patterns have evolved and will continue to evolve. But for now, and for many, the return to the morning commute seems more like a regression rather than an evolution. We need to keep in mind that things “worked” in the past. There is always room to improve. But the roads won’t be as barren as they were at the height of the Pandemic.