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School zones frustrating
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Now that the schools are again in session, we are seeing lots of frustration and traffic violations at or near schools zones - elementary schools, in particular.

As each new school year starts, parents who have to drop off (and pick up) their kids, and other motorists who drive through the area during the same time frames, have to get into a "rhythm" of sorts before traffic starts flowing smoothly and the school zone safety improves.

The biggest problem is that most people do not plan for the traffic congestion and conflicts that necessarily seem to accompany school zone areas. Many parents do not allow sufficient time to get their kids to school safely. It is especially difficult for a parent who works to get their child to class, and also try to arrive at work on time.

Being in a hurry is what leads parents to dropping their kids off in the street, which is unsafe for the children and blocks other traffic. The other motorists become frustrated and angry and often pass the stopped vehicle in the opposite lane, creating new dangers for all involved. We also see many occasions when parents enter the street from the school parking lot without yielding to traffic. The failure to use turn signals as appropriate is a common problem and many motorists do not stop for kids in the crosswalk.

Other motorists, whose travels routinely take them through school zones, should always expect delays and plan accordingly. It is dangerous to try to aggressively maneuver through all the activity in school zones, so it is best to avoid them if possible, or just accept that your travels will be impeded near schools.

Finally, there is the issue of school buses. All motorists must stop when school bus is loading or off-loading students. When doing so, these buses will display flashing red lights and in some instances a mechanical sign will be shown. It is illegal and very dangerous to pass a school bus under these circumstances. The police regularly issue citations for these violations. Curiously, many of the violators are parents themselves, when one would think that they, of all people, would be the most aware and careful around a school bus packed with kids.

School zone safety is important. As adults, it is our moral and legal duty to be particularly careful for children who are less cognizant of the dangers around them. We should set a goal to have no near-misses, injuries or deaths this year at or near our schools zones. All it will take is to slow down, leave enough time to compensate for school zone congestion, educate the kids for their safety and use the highest level of caution when kids are present.