Meighan de Pass, community policing officer with Sidney North Saanich RCMP, hands out cards at Deep Cove Elementary (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Kids drawings remind drivers to slow down, stop texting

Drivers passing by local elementary schools will soon have another reminder to slow down and pay attention.

Children from Deep Cove, ḰELSET and Sidney Elementary are drawing pictures that will be handed out to drivers, reminding them to “Think of Me” when driving through school zones.

“Children at this age do see the bad habits of their parents and other people who are driving,” said Corporal Chris Manseau of Sidney North Saanich RCMP. “So if we can get the children to draw pictures or tell stories of the things they already know is poor driving behaviour, and we can deliver that to drivers, then it makes it a lot more personal than just a police officer on the side of the road telling people how to drive.”

Manseau and community policing officer Constable Meighan de Pass toured local elementary schools last week, asking kids to say what they thought were bad driving behaviours. Kids were handed blank cards, on which they will draw a picture reminding drivers to encourage better driving behaviour. The cards will then be handed out during an upcoming road check.

Colleen Woodger, road safety co-ordinator for ICBC in south Vancouver Island, said that the messages cover a wide range of topics, including impaired driving, speeding and texting while driving. She said it’s effective because “it’s coming from the children’s perspective, which I think sometimes is better when trying to create this behaviour change that we’re trying to achieve behind the wheel.”

Manseau and de Pass found the program, which started in Vancouver, and contacted Woodger to bring it to Sidney and North Saanich.

“Some of these children take these cards home [to complete], which reaches one step farther,” said Woodger. “It gives parents a chance to reflect on school zones, intersections and we take it one more level when they’re given to drivers.”

Distracted driving is a “huge issue in our province” according to Woodger, killing more people than impaired driving.

“People need to take a break from the phone, whether they’re crossing the street or behind the wheel.”

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