I’ve been upset this week, and I haven’t been able to figure out why until today. I live on the edge of a metropolitan area and have to wind my way towards downtown each weekday to my job. Not far from my house is an elementary school. The school zone speed limit when the little yellow light is blinking is 15 mph. That’s okay. I have no problem with that. And it’s nice to see other people respecting that law.
For years, someone (either a local police officer or a school official) has been on the street directing traffic. I didn’t like that because I thought it was unnecessary. Except for people dropping off or picking up their kids, there wasn’t much other traffic. Surely people were smart enough not to crash into each other or do donuts in the school parking lot.
Then it happened. For the last three months, no one has been directing traffic. We drivers were left to our own devices to keep the cars and SUVs moving in a safe and orderly fashion. And it worked! For a while.
After a couple of months, some people decided it was necessary to speed things along. They began using two lanes instead of one to exit the school parking lot in the same direction, with two cars trying to turn onto a single lane street. Obviously they thought if they passed up three whole cars and cut in front of a fourth then they would get to their destination so much faster. There were no accidents. I witnessed no unruly behavior. I’m sure some people got irritated by these people’s actions, but nothing bad happened.
But it bothered me. When our youngest daughter was in the third grade (a different school in a different town than where we now live), a boy riding a bicycle was accidently hit by a school bus turning into the school parking lot and was killed. It was horrible. The bus driver was not at fault. The kid didn’t slow down at the entrance and didn’t look to see if anyone was coming. It made everyone aware of how easy it is to end the life of a child.
A county police car began sitting near the entrance of the school parking lot that I now pass every weekday. The officer does not direct traffic, but just being present makes a difference in all the drivers’ behavior. I find that sad. Why should we have to rely on a police officer to keep people from being jerks? These are parents dropping off their children. Do they not see how fragile they are? Why does it have to take a horrible accident that takes the life of a child to make people do what they should be doing in the first place?
I heard someone say recently that the world is broken. Well, if it is then we are the ones who broke it. And we’re the only ones that can fix it. We just have to be willing to do 15 mph in a school zone when that little yellow light is blinking.