Big drop in Edmonton school zone injury collisions since 2014 reintroduction

Click to play video: 'Edmonton sees drop in injury collisions since school zone reintroduction' Edmonton sees drop in injury collisions since school zone reintroduction
WATCH ABOVE: The decision to re-introduce 30 kilometre an hour school zones in Edmonton is paying dividends when it comes to safety. The city says the number of injury collisions has fallen dramatically. Shallima Maharaj reports. – Oct 13, 2016

The City of Edmonton says the decision to reintroduce 30 km/h school zones in 2014 is paying off, as statistics show collisions causing injuries to pedestrians and cyclists has dropped significantly.

The city said in the three years before reintroduction there were 50 injury collisions in school zones – 20 of which involved cyclists or pedestrians. But between September 2014 – when the zones were reinstated – and June 2016, the city said there were only 10 collisions,  two of which involved cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of injuries. We’re down to two — that’s still too many,” Ward 2 councillor Bev Esslinger said.

Police said while the numbers are encouraging, there’s still work to do.

“Our enforcement guys do say they have noticed in some schools significant reduction of violators and others,” Sgt. Kerry Bates with the Edmonton Police Service, said. “Somewhat less, but still kind of a steady flow of violators.”

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Early in 2016, city engineers identified traffic safety issues in 13 different school zones after doing a review using video analytics techniques and site visits.

Over the summer, new countermeasures tailored for each school were installed, including pedestrian crossing lights, zebra crosswalks, driver feedback signs to mitigate speeding, and reflective poles on stop signs.

The city said it will do safety analyses and upgrades on 24 schools in 2017 and another 24 in 2018.

“When people see the focus on safety at schools like Elizabeth Finch, they want to know how soon they can have those measures put in at their children’s school,” Esslinger said.

“One thing we can do to improve safety is watch out for each other. And driving within the speed limit is something everyone can do to keep our most vulnerable road users safe.”

Yussevh Gavacs, 8, said he walks to school every day and has noticed a difference in traffic since school zones were installed.

“I felt safer and more confident to walk out without knowing that I might get hit by a car. I know now that I won’t,” he said.

“The numbers are statistically significant from the research, so we’re pretty confident in terms of that,” Gerry Shimko, with the City of Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety, said. “We’re also seeing other indicators like the average speed now in school zones is 34 km/hr, so another positive indicator that the school zones are working.”

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School zone upgrades are part of the City’s Road Safety Strategy to help Vision Zero Edmonton achieve its goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

With files from Julia Wong, Global News

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