Slow down

With speeding and other unsafe driving behaviours continuing to pose a danger around town, and particularly in school zones, the local Safe Communities branch is teaming up with J.W. Walker students in an innovative program aimed at tackling the problem.
Dubbed “Ticket or Teach,” motorists nabbed by the OPP in the area around J.W. Walker will have the option of getting a ticket or attending a session on Dec. 10 at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre featuring safety videos compiled by Grade 8 students from the school.
The key here is that it’s the students themselves­—the ones most at risk from unsafe drivers as they head to and from school—who will be driving home the message which, hopefully, makes it resonate more deeply.
This initiative, along with a new “Pace Car” program that will see volunteers in specially-marked vehicles driving around town at the speed limit in an effort to slow down traffic, both stem from a “photovoice” project back in May, 2009 that had Grade 6 students at J.W. Walker taking out cameras to identify the hazards they face each and every day, with traffic ending up being at the top of the list.
Getting drivers to slow down is a year-round need, but it’s particularly important now that winter has arrived here in full force. Obviously, the streets are more slippery, meaning vehicles take longer to stop once the brakes are applied or possibly can spin out of control. Meanwhile, if the sidewalks aren’t yet plowed, youngsters will be walking along roads made narrower thanks to the snowbanks.
As well, the students are apt to be bundled up, making them less mobile and perhaps unable to see completely around them.
Time will tell if the “Ticket or Teach” program proves effective, but local safety advocate Grace Silander certainly is enthusiastic going in, saying the students have done a “bang-up” presentation.
Kudos to Safe Communities for their involvement, but especially to the youngsters who have taken matters into their own hands to help make our community a safer place to live.