This being the last weekend of summer vacation for all school-aged kids, the Guelph Police Service are reminding drivers that in the early morning, as of Tuesday, there will be more kids out and about, heading to and from their places of learning. Apparently, people forget that kids go to school when the calendar comes around to September again, even though the "Back to School" ads seem to start the first week of July now.
But kidding aside, I applaud the GPS efforts to get Guelph drivers to take care on the roads, but the fact of the matter is that Guelph drivers are a year around concern, and in more places than just the school zones.
What Guelph Police should be aware of is that there's been a steady and disturbing increase in the thoughtless, occasionally reckless driving from people behind the wheel in the Royal City. Too much speed, too many distractions, and the frequently menacing, if not outright aggressive behaviour of drivers are the main problems. For pedestrians, it's not enough to have the signal - and there are many roads in this town where the walk signal does not come up automatically - you have to keep your head on a swivel to make sure that people aren't blowing around the corner within a metre of your back, or slowly leaning on steering wheel as if to say, "you better cross the street fast, or else..."
In an odd bit of cosmic synchronicity, there were a total of three collisions on Guelph roads yesterday. Accidents happen certainly, and Statistics Canada seems to indicate that the number of collisions is actually trending down on a yearly basis, but anecdotally it's a wonder that car accidents aren't more common. Our culture is fairly car-centric; owning a car and the type of car one owns are tied to perceptions of status, which means most people will want a car in spite of themselves, in spite traffic getting worse, and in spite of greater driver distractions while behind the wheel. That's not to say all drivers are demons, and all walkers, bicyclists and transit users are saints, but I think moving forward we all need to work harder to find a way to share the roads comfortably together.
Here's the Back to School message from the Guelph Police:
School will be back in on Tuesday September 3rd 2013. This year, the Guelph Police Service will be focusing their efforts in school zones across the city to promote “Safety over Convenience”. Posters and hand-outs are being forwarded to all of Guelph’s 41 elementary schools, reinforcing the message.
Officers will be monitoring school zones over the coming school weeks, conducting both enforcement and education of motorists travelling in the area, and parents dropping their kids off at school.
Please do your part to reduce traffic in front of our schools. Encourage your child to walk to school. It is healthy for the body and the mind. Older children should walk to school with friends. Younger children should walk with the supervision of an adult or an older child. Please consider walking as the first option for your child to go to and from school.
If you choose to drive your child to school, children in junior and senior grades should be dropped off a few blocks from the school and walk the rest of the way. Many schools have access to the schoolyard from neighbouring less congested side streets. This allows parents of primary aged children, JK and SK, to use the designated Kiss & Ride areas and the roadways closest to the school.
There are many signs in the school zones that regulate parking, stopping, turns, access, and speed. Drivers who choose to ignore the traffic signs near schools are breaking the law, increasing the danger to all children and motorists in the area. Please obey the rules and drive in a safe and considerate manner.