This could potentially be my 30th back to school article since I started writing about traffic safety. With that observation comes the question of how can I possibly write something new on the subject? It’s not like I’m going to be the only one that tries to draw your attention to the topic in the next couple of weeks. Everyone has a stake in this facet of road safety, but do we truly have your attention and will you give it some thought?
Probably the oddest response that I ever had to school zone speed enforcement came early in my career. I caught a teacher driving to work at the school where I was watching. She received a traffic ticket for failing to slow down and went straight to the principal to complain. He came out to speak with me and thanked me for taking the time to work the zone and encouraged me to come back often. He also mentioned that the teacher had expected him to come out and explain the error of my ways because she thought that the school zone did not apply to her.
Are you like this teacher? Can you excuse yourself from obeying the rules because you are in a hurry to do something that you consider to be much more important than someone’s safety? If so, you are a selfish driver and need to take a look in the rear view mirror. Perhaps you will see flashing red and blue lights there.
School zones are 30 km/h zone for many reasons. You have more time to see, react to and prevent a collision if the situation presents itself. Pedestrians have more time to make safe a crossing decision and are less likely to choose incorrectly. Should the unthinkable occur, they are more likely to survive the collision than they would at just a few km/h faster. Thinking that you can safely drive “10 over” here is just plain stupid. Sorry.
Parents of school children can be frequent offenders as well. Don’t take your turn in the drop off zone, park wherever you will and let your passengers out wherever there is room. It saves time, but again, it’s selfish and unsafe. I’ve been involved in the investigation of a fatal collision where a child ran down the passenger side of the vehicle, across the rear and out into traffic where he was stuck by a passing car. Mom will wish for the rest of her life that she took the time to use the driveway. Don’t join her.
Obey the directions of school crossing guards. The law says that you have to. Not only do they help children cross the road safely on their way to and from school, they will report you to police if you don’t follow their direction. If you fail the grade as a driver here, you might receive a bad report card later on in the term.
Children don’t always use the crosswalks, marked or unmarked. When they do, you need to stop and let them cross. When they don’t, you are still required to exercise due diligence not to collide with them. They are children after all and don’t always make the best decisions. That’s why they’re off to school.
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Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.