“Kids are everywhere. Drive like it.” That’s the message of a new public awareness campaigned launched by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) in partnership with Metro and the regional Safe Routes to School program. This project was made possible by a Regional Travel Options Marketing grant to PBOT, and support from local Safe Routes to School programs across greater Portland.
Most drivers know that they should slow down and drive very carefully near schools and neighborhoods where children often play in the street. Signs reminding them that they are in a school zone or an area where kids are playing remind them to pay more attention. But this year, with many schools still closed and more children staying home, it is more important than ever to remember that kids, in fact, are everywhere — 2020 saw an alarming increase in traffic fatalities, with speed-related fatal crashes increasing from 30% in 2019 to 43% in 2020 in Portland.
“Year after year, Portland’s Safe Routes to School program hears concerns from school staff and families about speeding and dangerous driving behavior near schools,” said Shaina Hobbs, a Vision Zero Program Specialist at PBOT. “Traffic safety is one of the top reasons parents in Portland are hesitant to allow their children to walk and roll to school. Ultimately, we want drivers to incorporate the same heightened awareness and added care that they (hopefully) practice on a street with children playing when they’re driving around the region.”
The Regional Safe Routes to School program, which is part of Metro’s Regional Travel Options program, seeks to make greater Portland a place where all kids and teenagers are able to safely, affordably, and efficiently access school and their community by walking, rolling and using transit.
Although in-person school may not be in session everywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, greater Portland’s children are still walking, biking and playing in-and-around streets across the region. The new campaign is supported by safety data, local research, and focus groups, and provides the public with shareable graphics, virtual backgrounds, and other materials engage their community and remind drivers to be mindful of children in the streets.
Download shareable graphics and other materials promoting traffic safety on the Kids Are Everywhere campaign page.
The campaign materials and webpage have been translated into the five languages other than English most commonly used by families in greater Portland: Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Russian & Vietnamese. All graphics have alt-text embedded, in the language of the graphic, to improve accessibility for those using screen-readers.
A second phase of this campaign will launch later this year as more schools across the region begin to open for the new school year. It will include physical materials and updated graphics.
“This campaign is just one piece of creating safer streets for kids,” said Noel Mickelberry, Metro’s Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator “and enables busy families, community organizations and school districts to participate in reminding drivers that kids are playing and traveling on our streets, especially as school returns in-person and spring weather encourages more outdoor activities.”