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Elmer the Safety Elephant

With children back in school, the movement of large numbers of children in the areas close to schools, becomes a special issue for motorists till next June. 

Things to consider include the very modest speed limit of 30 km/hr in school zones from 8 am to 5 pm, and possibly longer if extended by local government. This speed limit was put in place because we know from experience that sooner or later a child is going to run out into the road without looking.

Special signage for pedestrian crosswalks in school zones also brings to the attention of the motoring public the fact that young children need our special care. The black and white rectangular sign shows two children walking in a cross walk. Often, the crosswalk is supervised by an adult or senior student “school crossing guard”.
 
Teaching children about traffic safety has long been an important subject in school. One of the most effective campaigns to teach young children about traffic safety rules was developed in Toronto over 50 years ago. In 1946, Toronto mayor Robert Hood Saunders enlisted The Toronto Evening Telegram newspaper to sponsor a children’s traffic safety program with the aid of the Toronto Police department. The police and the newspaper came up with the idea of using an elephant cartoon mascot because of the elephant’s legendary memory. And thus was born in 1947, Elmer the Safety Elephant.
 
Elmer’s impact was dramatic. Despite the ever-growing number of cars—vehicle registrations increased by 10% that year—collisions involving Toronto children dropped 44%. Elmer evolved under the skilled hand of a Canadian Disney studio animator—Charles Thorson—into a costumed character who appeared on flags, in schools, and at events like Saturday matinees at local movie theatres. Other communities who adopted the Elmer program achieved equally impressive results. Today the Canada Safety Council currently holds the trademark and copyright for Elmer the Safety Elephant.
 
Elmer’s original safety rules were based on a study of collisions involving 5 to 9 year olds that identified six main hazards. Running was usually a contributing factor. And because children can forget to be careful in the excitement of the moment, "Elmer and I never forget" became the slogan for the program. Elmer now addresses many aspects of child injury prevention, including playground, fire, school bus, railway, home and Internet safety. Visit Elmer online at www.elmer.ca.
 
Elmer’s seven time-tested traffic safety rules well worth sharing with your school age children are:
 
      1.      Look all ways before you cross the street.
 
      2.      Keep away from parked cars.
 
      3.      Ride your bike safely – obey signs and signals.
 
     4.      Play in a safe place away from the street.
 
     5.      Walk when you cross the street.
 
     6.      Where there is no sidewalk, walk on the left, facing traffic.
 
     7.      Always wear your seat belt in the car.
 
Except for the reference to seatbelt use, these are all rules from 1946. Some things do remain the same.
 

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