Some of the parents that I encounter in the drop-off line at the children’s school seem to be lacking some common sense. Lets think about this. There are 400+ children arriving at school each day. I’d guess 300 of those children are arriving by bus and the other 100 or so are being dropped off by parents (either driving or walking). Doesn’t this seem like a place where one would want to exercise caution while driving?
I’ve been dropping Tommy off at school for 2 1/2 years now, so I’ve seen quite a bit. I know that when it rains there are more parents driving and they don’t all know the parking lot procedures. I know that when it is cold, the number of cars goes up as well. I have come to expect these things.
That being said, I’ve seen my fair share of things happen within 2 blocks of the school. Some are just annoying, others are downright dangerous.
- While in the drop off line, parents put their car in park, get out, hug and kiss their kid, and some even watch him/her walk to the door before getting back in the car and getting out of the way of others. This happens more often at the beginning of the school year, likely with Kindergarten parents who don’t know the system, but there are a few regulars even at this point in the year. People, if you or your child need this kind of send off, then park your car and stay out of the flow of traffic.
- The rules state that children are only to exit their cars on the passenger side. This is for safety reasons, and I think it is a pretty duh kind of thing. Nope…still have parents whose kids exit on the drivers side, possibly stepping right into the path of a moving vehicle. I don’t really know what is up with these parents. Do they not know the rule? Does this not seem like common sense even without a rule? Do they think that they are exempt from the rule?
- Once you have dropped your child off and are pulling away from the curb, you need to check behind you to see that you have clearance to do so. This should be the same as pulling out of a parallel parking space. Sadly, this is not 2nd nature to these people. I almost got hit today by someone who just pulled away without even looking over his shoulder. When people drive like this, it is even more clear why the rule in #2 is a necessity.
- When the parking lot gets full and the line is backed up out onto the street (as a result of car volume and made worse by #1 above), things become more difficult. It is a residential street (which is good), but traffic will back up in both directions. This becomes more dangerous because those just passing through will insist on pulling around this stopped traffic. Add to this, that some parents pulling out of the parking lot see all the stopped traffic and do not anticipate that someone might be pulling around. I’m surprised that his has not resulted in an accident yet, as I watched one nearly happen this morning. Oh…and did I mention that the entrance of the parking lot is at the edge of a curve in the road? This curve then becomes a blind curve when filled with backed up cars. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…accident waiting to happen.
- Another rule states that children are not to be dropped off on the street that the school is on. There are many reasons why this is the case. Nevertheless, you’ll still see parents pull up along the curb and dump kids out every now and then.
- Children are to cross at the crosswalk. Another total duh kind of rule. Still…you see it from time to time. With all the traffic nonsense that I’ve already described, I don’t know how anyone in their right mind would think that letting their child run across the street in the middle of backed up traffic on a curved residential street with morning sun blazing in one direction…but still it happens. We also have parents who park their cars on the street and walk their kids across the street…and most of them do not utilize the crosswalk. I guess crosswalks are only for school children and not parents. After all…one might have to walk an extra block to the crosswalk and back.
These past 2 days, I’ve seen things that go beyond the “usual” antics. I don’t understand why people do these things. Are they really that concerned that their child might be late for school? Is it their own schedule and the possibility of being late for work? Is it a failure to realize that they’re putting their child in danger? Sure, I want to make sure that my children aren’t late for school, but I’m not going to put their lives in danger to be sure that happens. Yesterday, for whatever reason, traffic in the neighborhood was backed up more than usual. Parents were clearly becoming impatient.
- One parent let his/her kids out of the car while stuck in the backed up traffic. Those children then proceeded to run the remaining block or 2 to school.
- 2 other parents pulled around the stopped traffic (on the blind curve), used driveways to turn their cars around and then let their kids out on the side of the street as well.
Today though, what I experienced really proved to me that some parents are putting their children in harms way. When I pulled up to the stop sign where the crosswalk is located, there was a minivan pulled up along the curb on the other side. It was halfway out into traffic and its back end was at least partially blocking the crosswalk. One would assume that a child was being unloaded. I came to a complete stop. I looked at the crossing guard. He did not raise his stop sign for me, but I could tell by the look on his face that he was concerned/confused about what was going on across the street. Without his signal for me to remain stopped, I looked for traffic and began to pull through the intersection. At the moment, a child (that had been dropped off where he shouldn’t have been, by a vehicle that was blocking the crosswalk) came running out from behind the minivan and across the street. The crossing guard barely had time to put up his stop sign (and FWIW the crossing guard did step out in front of my car) for me to stop before hitting this child. I was aware of the car, aware that a child was likely being unloaded, and that this was a bad situation. But I tell ya…watching the way others drive around school, I’m not so sure that others would’ve been so aware of what was going on there. So yes, I probably should’ve just stayed stopped until I knew exactly what was going on. The thought that I could’ve hit a child, in a crosswalk, right in front of my children’s school really upsets me.
The good news about all this is that I brought it to the attention of the principal yesterday and she was as concerned as I was. She called me this morning and we spoke at great length about the situation.