Drivesmart column: Someone needs a timeout for their approach to school crosswalk safety

I pick up my granddaughters one afternoon a week at their rural elementary school.

By Tim Schewe

I pick up my granddaughters one afternoon a week at their rural elementary school. The kindergarten classes march out in line and wait patiently while their teacher identifies each child’s caregiver and dismisses them individually. They now join the free-for-all to walk to the vehicles parked in the area and go home.

I try to show up at least 10 minutes before the dismissal bell so that I have time to park properly and walk to the spot where I wait for the girls. Of course, given my background in traffic policing, I find myself noticing the bad behaviour of some of the drivers during this short jaunt.

What bothers me most is the disregard for the marked crosswalks leading into the schoolyard. Vehicles park on both sides of the road, bumpers to the edge of the paint. Some drivers even take advantage of the open space and park right on top of it.

Two weeks ago I was walking by at the same time as a woman parked on the crosswalk and exited her car. I could not resist and observed that she knew she was not supposed to park there, right? She just looked at me and kept walking.

Road maintenance has deteriorated here too. In the 2012 Google Street View of these crosswalks they are both painted and signs indicating their presence are posted.

Today, the signs are no longer present and the closest crosswalk in the picture has been left to deteriorate while the far one has been repainted.

There are two documents that the provincial government uses to uniformly mark school crosswalks, the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings and the Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual for BC. Both mandate the use of the school crosswalk marking signs but are contradictory of the need for a “no passing” tab on the school zone signs.

The Motor Vehicle Act tells drivers that they must not park on top of or within six meters of the approach side of a crosswalk.

Confusion may exist about the painted crosswalk that has been left to deteriorate on its own. Does a driver ignore it? Should a pedestrian use it? It’s there, marked or not, but faded paint may suggest to drivers that they don’t have to obey.

Perhaps the Ministry and some drivers need a time out for their approach to safety at these school crosswalks.

What I do admire are the drivers who proceed slowly and carefully through all of this. They stop and wait patiently at the newer of the two crosswalks and no doubt anticipate that short children are going to appear suddenly from in front of the vehicles obstructing the crosswalk.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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