Mother hopes others can learn from her grief in pushing for road safety changes

Crosswalk sign

A Quebec mother is sharing her late son's story as part of an effort to make the province's streets safer.

Jules Boutin was killed last year in front of his Ste-Agathes des Montes school. The 13-year-old was struck and hit by a school bus while trying to cross the street at a crosswalk. The police called the death an accident, but his parents believe his death was preventable.

“He was a strong student at school, doing well, he had a lot of friends,” said his mother, Catherine Ricard. “It was very easy to love Jules.”

Since his death, Ricard has become a pedestrian safety advocate, working with Pietons Quebec. The group's spokesperson, Veronique Fournier, said tragedies like Boutin's occur too often in the province.

“In the last 10 years, road safety records have been better for drivers and other road users but not for pedestrians,” she said.

According to Pietons Quebec data, pedestrian deaths are on the rise, with more than 200 people being struck and killed by vehicles within the province over the last three years. Their data shows a pedestrian is seriously injured by a vehicle every two days, on average.

The group is launching a new awareness campaign, dubbed 'All pedestrians,' which tries to drive home the theme that pedestrians don't have armour when on the roads.

The campaign comes days after an elderly woman was killed in a hit-and-run at a notoriously dangerous intersection in NDG.

Fournier said they believe simple changes, such as giving pedestrians more time to cross at traffic lights, could save lives.

“Elders walk at a slower pace, young children as well, so they need to have the correct time cross intersections,” she said.

Ricard said drivers must also slow down and pay attention so tragedies such those faced by her family can be avoided.

“You have a dangerous object between your hands and you are the one who uses this object, so you have a responsibility,” she said.

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