Back to School Safety Q & A With Brenda Hollingsworth

Newsletter September 1 FNL

What dangers should parents be on the lookout for this September?

A lot of parents are not putting their kids on the school bus during the pandemic. Many will opt to walk or drive their kids; others will let their kids walk or drive alone. Knowing how to get to school is going to be important for these kids considering a lot of them haven’t walked or driven alone before. Make sure your kids are familiar with the route beforehand. Consider a practice walk in the week before school, so your kids know which lights, sidewalks, and roads to use.

What happens if someone falls and hurts themselves while walking to school? Who is liable?

The sidewalks are usually well maintained during the fall season since most of the spring potholes are filled. If something happens on a municipal sidewalk, the city could be at fault.  Liability is based on pothole depth or a change in elevation from one block to another.

If somebody hurts themselves on a sidewalk, you want to notify the city in writing. You will then have 10 business days to provide notice to the city.

What if someone is injured on a private driveway rather than a sidewalk?

You have a responsibility to make sure that your driveway is reasonably safe for reasonable use. Certainly, walking on a driveway would be a usual use that you would expect the homeowner to look after. That’s called occupiers liability, and it applies to everybody in Ontario. If somebody’s injured, even if you didn’t invite them, even if they’re trespassing, even if they’re a little kid, you might not have expected. If there’s something unsafe, you could be responsible if somebody’s injured.

There will likely be more walkers, cyclists, and parent drivers this fall. With the increased traffic, how can we keep everyone safe?

If you are driving your kids, you need to be more vigilant than usual. If you hit a pedestrian, you are presumed to be at fault under the Highway Traffic Act. One suggestion is to park your car a few blocks away and walk the last few blocks with your kids so that you’re not adding to the congestion around the danger zone.

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