Are we the drivers we warn our children about?

by Garfield Marks

I often ask myself: “Are we the drivers we warn our children about”?

School zones are important safety zones for the children, all the children, not just yours. Recently I have seen some hair-raising episodes of bad driving and parking in school zones.

In one school zone, there is a crosswalk, a fire hydrant, no-stopping signs, and an idle-free sign. I have seen parents roar up, stop, wait, idle on the crosswalk, by the fire-hydrant, under the no-stopping sign and the idle-free sign.

I have had parents pass me and cut in to enter parking lots, to pick up a child. Recently a woman looked as if she was texting on her phone, positioned on the passenger seat. She was moving into oncoming traffic, before looking up and moving over. What would have happened if it had been a child, a parent walking a child and not an SUV?

Requiring reduced speed, school zone hours here occur before school (8 to 9:30) when all the children arrive, during lunch (11:30 to 1:30), and after school (3 to 4:30). School zones times and speed vary from community to community, and province to province. This applies to playground areas as well.

But they do not just apply to everyone else — they apply to us even when we are running late, our children are ill or hurt, the weather is bad or when we are texting.

We want our children to be safe. We want all the children to feel safe. The school will not force your 6-year-old to wait on the street at 40 below because you are arriving 20 seconds later as a result of following the speed limit. We do not want our children walking around vehicles stopped on the crosswalk, breathing exhaust fumes and being unseen to other vehicular traffic. Fire fighters would be horrified if someone was unnecessarily hurting longer than needed because access was blocked to a fire hydrant; I know I would be.

Today, a truck was tailgating a car in front, after passing me in a school zone. People talking on phones, doing their hair, eating and speeding through a school zone with children in sight. Texting and other distractions are much more dangerous in an elementary school zone than on other roads.

We all lead busy lives but the signs are there and the rules are in place for a very important reason: “To protect our children”.

Can you do your part, or are you the driver you warn your children about? Honestly?