Andrea Rondeau column: Parents worst offenders in school zones

They get out with their young children and proceed to jaywalk across the street

It’s back to school, and that means slowing down and following the rules in school zones once more. I’m looking at you, parents.

Rules and regulations in school zones is one of those topics we get at least one or two articles about from various sources each year at this time. We ran a reminder/warning from the RCMP in Wednesday’s edition. And they are out and watching. I drive through at least one school zone each weekday morning and on Tuesday, an RCMP officer was standing in the traffic island in the middle of the zone, dressed conspicuously in a reflective vest, eyeing the traffic. Just his presence was an abrupt reminder that it was September, not August.

But some of the wackiest driving and other behaviours I’ve seen in school zones have actually been those of parents coming to drop their kids off.

Sure, there are those who figure they don’t need to slow down for a school zone, or at least they don’t need to slow down to 30 km/h, and race right through.

But it seems some of the most dangerous things I’ve seen have been done by those who are actually stopping in the school zone to drop their kids off.

I can’t even count how many parents I’ve seen pull up to the curb, let their children out, then pull a u-turn in the middle of the school zone and head back from whence they came. Sometimes speeding as they go, because some parents seem to forget they’re in a school zone as soon as their own kids are out of the car.

Another really common no-no I see is a parent, usually running late, pulling up to the curb and parking (sometimes even leaving the vehicle idling — bad). Then they get out with their young children and proceed to jaywalk across the street to the school, sometimes without regard for traffic. When there is a crosswalk mere feet away, often manned by crossing guards. It’s enough to make me cover my eyes and shake my head. What are their kids learning from this behaviour? Do you want them to jaywalk when they’re not with you? Because they will. You’ve taught them to ignore the crosswalk and do just that. How can you expect anything else?

I’m always amazed there aren’t more crashes among the parents who, having dropped their children off for school, then totally fail to signal or even look over their shoulders as they pull back out into traffic. Sometimes school drop-off zones look like a free-for-all with the number of parents who don’t seem to know, or just ignore, the driving rules.

So yes, getting people to slow down once again for school zones is really important. But it would also be a good idea for schools to address rules of the road during drop-off times with parents. Many of them could definitely use the reminder.

Andrea Rondeau is the editor of the Cowichan Valley Citizen.

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