Late last school year, the elementary school my children attend announced to families that it was shutting down the drop-off line. Warning after warning was given about parents driving recklessly and putting the students’ and the teachers’ lives at risk.
Parents at the school were not happy.
When we got the third warning email from the school that year, I laughed. Why do parents have to be reminded to be cautious around a school, once, let alone multiple times? It wasn’t funny, though. They needed to be reminded more times than the school was willing to risk.
It seems to be an ongoing trend in my town, where a thousand kids pack each elementary school and many parents in these over-crowded schools choose to drive their children to and from. It has been a recipe for disaster for years. That’s why drop-off lines are closing and that’s why our schools have chosen to remove the risk off their property.
Sadly, though, moving the risk doesn’t remove the risk. Parents need to smarten up.
After school yesterday, a five-year-old girl was pinned between two cars in a school pickup area in Toronto. Tragically, she passed away from her injuries hours later.
“The victim was getting into a Mercedes Benz and the Kia was engaged in gear somehow and came on its own, without a driver in it, and pinned her between the two vehicles while she was getting in,” Sgt. Duncan Miller told CP24.
Early reports today indicate that the car was left idling and in gear, and, to add insult to injury, it may have been parked in a no-parking zone. CP24 reported this morning that parents at the school had been warned numerous times (just like at my school) about risky driving behaviours in the school zone. The warnings fell on deaf ears.
According to a spokesman from the local school board, the street on which the cars were parked is used by many parents in the school to get their kids. Emily Milne told CP24 that it’s a ‘high traffic area.’ High traffic means lots of cars, and lots of children.
Maybe it was the catchment I was in, or the quality of bussing back in the dark ages when I was in elementary school, or maybe it was the population or location of the school, I don’t know, but I do know that no parents never drove their kids to school back when I was a kid. None. Not one. Kids were either bussed or they walked. There was no “kiss and ride.” There was no high-traffic zone.
The ability to drop your child off at school, be it in a kiss and ride or along the road, is a privilege provided to families – not a right – and most definitely not something to be used and abused by rushing parents. That’s not to say that these parents don’t need to drive, for whatever reason. It is to say, however, that we all need to slow the hell down and take extra care to not drive and act like we are the only people who have places to be. We all just want to get our kids home safely and none of us want to be the reason one child goes to the hospital rather than home.
We still don’t know how the car started rolling down the street and pinned the poor little girl. We do know that school drop off zones are increasingly busy, increasingly hectic, and increasingly unsafe. Our school, and others like it, has made it a campaign to get people to walk or take the bus, to minimize traffic and to minimize risk.
At the end of the day though, that responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders.