Less than a year ago, I started working as a crossing guard.
I know I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen a lot. *SMH*
I wanted to write something up that could be shared among folks who consider themselves to be rational, good people and good drivers. Irrational, bad drivers / sociopaths won’t care about what I have to say.
Without further ado, I present:
The Top Three Reasons Why You Should SLOW YOUR ROLL in a School Zone
- You don’t want to injure or kill a child.
I guarantee you, if you accidentally harm a child with your vehicle, the incident will haunt you for a long time, if not for the rest of your life, even if it’s not your fault.
There’s a crazy mathematical equation out there that was produced with traffic safety research that shows something very interesting – there is an EXPONENTIAL INCREASE in the risk of serious injury or death to a pedestrian as the speed of the vehicle that hits them increases from about 15 miles per hour to about 40 miles per hour. Click here if you want to nerd out on data, and see the image below if you want a visual representation of what this data means.
The speed limit in front the the school where I work is 15 miles per hour, which is a data-based speed limit set to reduce the risk of severe injury or death as much as possible while also enabling reasonable vehicle travel. The normal speed limit on that road is 30 mph, and vehicles regularly travel at or above that limit, even when crossing guards (ME!) and kids are clearly visible alongside the roadway.
What rational driver would continue to drive at the regular speed limit of 30mph, instead of the school-zone speed limit of 15mph, if they knew it would TRIPLE the risk they might kill a child in a crash, and DOUBLE the risk that a child would be severely injured or killed? You can leave home a little earlier to make it to work on time, but you can’t bring a child back from the dead.
The extra kicker is, younger kids can be so unpredictable. They don’t yet understand traffic rules or have the mental processing capability to extrapolate vehicle speeds and travel distances. A young student is much more likely to dart out suddenly into the path of your vehicle. Wouldn’t you much rather be going 15mph, so you A) have more time to react to the situation and B) have a much reduced chance of the collision causing injury or death?
- You don’t want to get a ticket and lose time/money.
This seems like small potatoes after talking about the possibility of a child dying, but time and money are very motivating to people. It’s against the law to exceed the school zone speed limit during designated hours. If you don’t know what the designated hours are, pretty good clues are: A) the presence of a crossing guard or B) the presence of kids. Regardless of whether you get an expensive “speeding in a school zone” ticket or not, getting pulled over will guarantee you will lose more time than if you had just obeyed the school zone speed limit in the first place.
- You never know what the “other guy” is going to do.
I have seen some crazy driving behavior in my school zone duty station, including crazy driving behavior and distractions that risk causing crashes with other, law-abiding drivers. (I keep envisioning nightmare chain-reaction crashes.) Many instances of crazy driving behavior are committed by the people who are picking up and dropping off kids at the school. A school zone is a concentrated crazy-driving area, and you would be wise to drive slowly and defensively (pay full attention!) to give yourself more time to react to the craziness when (not if) it happens.
Here’s a list of crazy driving behavior I have witnessed in my 4 months as a crossing guard. Alas, I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this list.
- Turning without a turn signal
- Turning across a crosswalk while pedestrians are there
- Running a red light
- Driving distracted with one hand on the wheel
- using a cell phone (I see this ALL THE TIME)
- smoking / eating / drinking
- reaching somewhere inside the vehicle (e.g., tuning the radio)
- Driving distracted with ZERO hands on the wheel
- peeling and eating a banana
- lighting a cigarette
- reading a book and turning pages
- Driving under the influence (I smelled marijuana from a passing car one morning)
- Driving up the pedestrian ramp on the corner to cross the sidewalk
- Driving in the opposite lane and up onto the sidewalk to drop off a student
- Stopping suddenly in the middle of a traffic lane to drop off a student
- Gunning it across 4 lanes of traffic trying to make an opening, regardless of pedestrians in the area
Be a good driver! SLOW YOUR ROLL in a school zone, so you give yourself more time to react to people and other vehicles and possibly save a child’s life!
Copyright 2021 by Katie Bradshaw