Oh I had planned to put this to rest for a little while…I really had. But, I just can’t seem to do that yet.
It’s snowing today. I just knew that I’d see some crazy stuff when I picked the kids up from school today. When there’s snow coming down, people drive like idiots and don’t always make smart decisions about where to put their cars and how to get their children to these cars. Sadly, what I saw didn’t fall into that category.
Texting while driving…anywhere…is against the law. Cell phone usage in a school zone is against the law. Put the 2 together, and I’m sure that’s a hefty fine. What did I see? I saw a parent, on her way to pick up her child, TWD in a school zone while it was snowing. Seriously…does anyone NOT see why that is a dumb and dangerous thing to do??
Of course, while I was parked and waiting my turn to enter the parking lot, a village snow plow whizzed by and appeared to be going over the posted school zone speed limit. Guess maybe it’s time for a phone call to the village about that one.
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.
Nearly everyday for the past several weeks, I have watched a dad drop his 1st grade daughter off for school, and have seen that she is riding in the front seat. I thought to myself, “Surely that can’t be legal.” To tell you the truth though, I’m not as sharp about carseat laws as I used to be. So, I looked it up. It’s not illegal…but it is highly recommended that all children ages 12 and under ride in the backseat. Doing so will significantly reduce their risk of injury from deployment of passenger side airbags in a crash. So, maybe you’re trying to score some “cool dad” points with your daughter, but you’re certainly not scoring the “safe dad” points. And perhaps you’re thinking that you only live 3 blocks from school so its no big deal. What’s that statistic about accidents that happen within a half mile of the home??
And another thing…for the people who live across the street from the school. Could you and your children PLEASE use the crosswalk?! I know, that would require you to walk another 100 or 200 feet, but that’s what it’s there for. There is just so much traffic moving on the street at that time of day that it is unsafe to be crossing the street like that. I know, I know…you walk with your children, and you all look both ways…that’s great. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re crossing diagonally, just past a curve in the road and there are cars, vans and buses galore going up and down the street.
Oh, and the same goes for those moms and dads who drop off but, for whatever reason, park in the parking lot and walk up with your kids. Yes, you’re in a school parking lot with other moms and dads who are aware that there are tons of children around…but it still a parking lot. Please pay attention to your children so that they don’t dart out in front of moving vehicles.
OK…I’ll get down off my soap box, at least for now.
On practically a daily basis, I find myself shaking my head in disgust as I walk through the parking lot at work. A vast majority of those with whom I work are well educated individuals. At least on paper. But, when it comes to where and how to park a car, some of them fall severely short.
First, there’s one guy who, for about 2 weeks straight, would pull his Honda Odyssey into a parking space completely crooked. Seriously, no one in their right mind would park on either side of him for fear of him taking out their car on his way out. I considered the possibility that this was a strategic move on his part…to prevent people from parking too close. No…don’t think so.
Then, there are the people who think they’re too good for rules and laws and such. They arrive at work late enough every day that they are unable to find an empty parking space in that lot. It’s not the fact that they arrive late that I have a problem with. After all, my son’s school schedule causes me to be amongst the later crowd myself. What I do have a problem with is the way these individuals choose to “solve” their problem. They don’t adjust their schedules. They don’t go park in the neighboring lot. They park in the FIRE LANE! The same people…probably 2-3 times a week. Seriously…how important do you think you are that you can park your car in the fire lane?? Has it not dawned on you that the fire lane serves an actual purpose? And, even better yet, some days they double park in the fire lane. Of course, security issues tickets…but those are just a joke. I’m wondering how many times they can ticket the same car before they just up and have it towed at the owner’s expense.
My favorite lately though, is the person who has decided to change things up a bit. Rather than always parking illegally in the fire lane, she has been seen parking in other no parking zones. I wonder what she was thinking the day that she parked her minivan in the “Motorcycle Parking” section.