School zones and particularly their drop-off and pick-up zones were in the news recently due to an accident in Toronto that took the life of a five-year-old girl. Police, school, and safety officials all agreed that school zones are getting busier every year.
As the housing surrounding the Mentor and TEAM campuses changes, I am seeing more students walking to school but we are still far from the typical “neighbourhood school”. About one-third of our students use our school buses (with a much-smaller fraction taking public transit) so I estimate that about 60% of our students get to and from school via the family vehicle. The school feels that the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup works very well considering the volume of traffic (and we are in a position to say this because there are administrators and teachers overseeing these areas during the busiest times).
But just like the high school student with a 96% overall average, you can say that “there is always room for improvement” so here are some things to keep in mind:
- Use only the “drop-and-drive” lane for drop-offs and pick-ups. If you use the “drive-through” area, your child will need to cross the drop-and-drive lane where drivers may be coasting forward watching their child enter the school (not expecting foot traffic in front of them)
- Have students ready for drop-off. The drop-and-drive lane is named for how it is supposed to work. When vehicles stay in this lane too long, the driver who pulled up behind feels the need to back up in order to extract themselves from the lane and thereby endangering students who are crossing the lane.
- Double parking/stopping. This is usually found on Queen Street by the Mentor campuses either for a quick drop-off or pickup or in the afternoon while waiting for the buses at the Primary Campus to clear. With parking allowed on both sides of the street, there are only two lanes available and vehicles parked/stopped in one lane when the street is at its busiest makes for an uncomfortable traffic situation.
- U-turns. There is a reason why there are specific signs forbidding U-turns around our schools. If you are tempted to do one of these illegal/dangerous moves, please just do another lap of the school; there are too many vehicles and pedestrians who are not expecting such a manoeuvre.
- Be a good “mentor”. We love when our Grade 11 students start driving (accompanied by Mom or Dad in the passenger seat!) with their G1 licence. We owe it to them to exhibit proper driving habits and, because we are on the streets near the schools or in the parking lots, we should be even more diligent.
- Be patient. In my over 25 years of watching traffic around the schools, most of the issues could have been resolved if drivers just waited a few more seconds for the traffic around them to clear. So if this happens, have another sip of coffee and say to yourself “Mr. Starkey would be proud of me for being so patient!”
Mentor College/TEAM School