The Supreme Court of Canada has held that motorists ought to be held liable for injuries when they fail to slow down and drive carefully in areas where there is a possibility there may be children, including playgrounds, schools and built up residential areas.
In the case, Anapolis County District School Board v. Marshall, a 4 years old suffered “catastrophic” injuries when struck by a school bus. The Supreme Court upheld the trial judges direction to the jury that recited the law, as it applied to children, is as follows:
In a school or playground area or in a built up residential district, a motorist should drive more slowly and carefully and keep a lookout for the possibility of children running out into the street. Here you must decide whether the circumstances were such as to put the defendant motorist on notice that he was approaching an area where children were likely to be, and therefore should exercise greater care in the operation of his motor vehicle.
In dissenting reasons for Judgement, Justice Cromwell found that the Jury charge was in fact confusing and that the heightened standard of care when driving near children needed to be stressed even more by the trial judge.
The ruling is consistent with the recent Ontario Coroners’ Review on Pedestrian Deaths that calls for reduced speed limits in areas with children. Simply going the speed limit may not be enough. The actions of a child are clearly different than adults. When drivers are entering areas where there is a possibility of children running out, they ought to slow down and keep a keen eye out. The ruling adds to a long list of authorities that require extra care must be taken when children are involved.