This post isn’t going to be about LAUSD today.  It’s about parents, and specifically about parents driving around schools.  School has been in session for nearly a month now and I’d like to think that traffic conditions are better than they were on August 14th.  But they’re not.

I read reviews written by parents from other schools regularly about the bad driving.  And sadly some schools think they have the market covered as if it’s some sort of honor.  Los Angeles schools were built in a time when one car families were the norm, kids walked to school, and schools had far fewer students in them.  Now, those same schools, ensconced in neighborhoods, fill up with hundreds of cars in a very short time frame on streets that can scarcely handle the load.

Kids used to be safe walking or riding their bikes, although I couldn’t feel comfortable recommending anyone riding now.  Kids who used to go to school down the street are attending miles away through open enrollment or other programs.  Even magnet busing has gotten to be daunting with stops so far in the opposite direction and so early in the AM that essentially it’s parents driving each day.  Parents driving SUVs the size of tanks are blowing through stop signs, failing to yield at crosswalks, and parking anywhere–in red zones, in the crosswalk, in the staff lots, and virtually anywhere they choose.

LAUSD school police have their hands full trying to keep the traffic moving and keeping the kids safe.  Here are a dozen ideas that if every family would implement just a couple of them, would make every school a safer place.

1. Drop off early and pick up late.  Dropping off just 15 minutes before the bell not only gives your child time to get to class, but it also avoids that last-minute rush of cars.  In the afternoon, have your child stay on campus 10-15 minutes after the bell and let them play with friends or go back to their lockers leisurely.

2.  Park a few blocks away and point yourself away from the school. You can get in a little exercise and if the kid’s backpack weighs more than he does, you can carry it back to the car while you talk about all those parents who can’t figure out to park.  You’ll still get on the main artery before the parents who are three cars deep near the main office.

3. Try a lesser used gate.  At my daughter’s elementary school, the gate used by the Y was near the third grade classrooms.  One we started using that gate in third grade, we never went back to the crowded front gate.

4. If the school is close to a business or commercial area, park in the shopping center.  My son’s designated high school pick up for four years was a grocery store two blocks down hill of the campus.  The upside, I could run into the store and grab something we needed, and I stayed away from the insanity just a few blocks up the hill.

5. Use your cell phone.  It’s a rare child who doesn’t walk off campus and flip open a phone.  So park where it’s safe, and call the kids to tell them where you are.  You do not need to be triple parked in front of the office for your child to figure out where you are.

6. Be patient.  Everyone–I mean everyone–has some where to be.  They have important things to do.  Be patient and exercise a little courtesy.  It might be returned some day.

7. Remember the laws apply to you.  This means do not park in red zones.  In the cross walk.  In front of trash cans.  Do not drop your children off in the middle of the crosswalk.  Or the teacher’s lot.  Don’t park in the loading zone and expect the school to magically waive the ticket because you were only there for a few minutes.

8. If it’s a nice day, get there early.  Park close, walk over to the campus and do something novel–talk to other parents or ask to volunteer.  Even 15-20 minutes of your time will be much appreciated.  If the school doesn’t need you that day, pull out a good book, balance your check book, or call a friend to say hi.

9. If you live three blocks away, it is ok to let the kids walk to school, even in the rain.  And home too.  We all did it.

10.  Don’t jay walk.  Children learn from the actions of their parents far more than they learn from being preached to.  Cross at intersections, and make sure you have made eye contact with the drivers before crossing the street.

11. Make note of when the school’s neighborhood trash day is.  And either be even 10 minutes earlier at drop off and 10 minutes later at pick up.

12. Obey the traffic officers.  Seriously.

13. Add your best safety tip in the comments section.

Good luck this year, and please be safe.

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