Toronto drivers urged to ditch distractions, be cautious as schools open

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WATCH ABOVE: Toronto drivers urged to ditch distractions and focus on roads as kids get back to class – Sep 5, 2017

The start of the school year often conjures a plethora of emotions for parents sending their children back to class. On Tuesday, extra attention was paid to their safety en route to school.

Mayor John Tory was flanked by city and community officials for the unveiling of a new school safety zone at Grenoble Public School — part of the $80-million dollar Vision Zero Safety Plan.

“We have a lot of these zones already in place, with a lot more to come this year and 20 per year until we get all of the school zones in the city done,” Tory said Tuesday.

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The Grenoble Public School zone is one of seven new school safety zones in the city. They include signs with flashing beacons, reminders for drivers to watch their speed and “zebra” markings at crosswalks.

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“Put down the phone, put down the coffee,” Tory said.

Speed and distracted driving are among the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities in Toronto. Tory and Toronto police stressed how preventable many of the tragedies that have occurred over the years were.

“Those who are in a vehicle surrounded by two tonnes of steel are the ones on whom most of the responsibility rests,” said Tory.

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The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was also looking to underscore the importance of safety on the roads.

“We are really looking at ways to continue partnering and strategizing so that these kinds of things can continue to happen because when drivers slow down, when people are responsible for everyone – better things happen,” TDSB Director of Education John Malloy said.

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Toronto police were also launching a new safety campaign centered on student safety.

The Frequent Offence the Community and Road Users See Everyday (FOCUSED) campaign coincides with the start of the school year in the Greater Toronto Area. It runs until Sept. 8 and will hone in on drivers who put children at risk due to bad driving habits.

On Sept. 18, the city will also launch a traffic blitz on individuals who are parked illegally.

With files from Tina Trigiani

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