THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2016 -- It’s about 7:30 a.m. and I’m driving my younger son to Camden Middle School (CMS). During the next 10 minutes, I am subjected to poor choices on the part of my fellow CMS parents when it comes to dropping off their kids at school.
Back in December 2013, I wrote a column asking my fellow parents to drop off their kids at CMS safely. I will point out, again, the “rules” of dropping off students at the school. I do this because I am frustrated at how either a) confused, b) ignorant or c) uncaring other parents are. I’m not saying this to be mean. My priority here is everyone’s safety, especially for our kids.
Things go fairly smoothly as I approach the school. For the most part, drivers at the four-way stop at McRae and Hasty roads don’t get confused this particular morning about who’s next to turn or go through the intersection. I even marvel at the (still relatively few) drivers who take advantage of the double-lane system in the drop-off/pick-up loop despite Principal Byron Johnson not being out there.
Rule 1: Whether Johnson or another official’s out there or not, unless the left lane is blocked off, use it.
Rule 1.5: Be sure to pull as far to the end of the car riding awning to drop off your child.
It’s after I’ve dropped off my son when my blood pressure starts to rise. I’m at the T-intersection formed by the entrance/exit into CMS and McRae Road. Someone has driven from my left past the entrance/exit and stopped just past the crosswalk. The passenger side door opens and a girl gets out and heads down the sidewalk to the school’s cafeteria entrance.
Back in 2013, Johnson sent out a phone message to parents reminding them not to drop off their children “in the teacher parking lot, the left lane of the car rider line or in the middle of the street on McRae or Hasty roads.” (My emphasis.) There are even signs up saying you cannot drop off your kid by stopping on the road.
Despite this, some parents stop their cars on the other side of McRae Road, forcing their child to cross the street while other parents are trying to drive by.
We’ve been lucky. There has yet to be a single child hurt or killed while being dropped off at CMS. But I fear it’s only a matter of time.
Rule 2: Don’t drop off your child on the side of the road; use the car rider line.
Anyway, right after this, I find myself stuck, waiting to turn left to head back into downtown Camden. I’m carefully watching traffic in both directions on McRae Road. I notice some cars approaching from my right whose drivers wish to turn left into the school. Suddenly, one of them stops without pulling forward far enough to make the turn. I guess he or she is trying to be polite and let me out. While I appreciate this, they have the right of way. (As in, literally, they are on my right.) It would be, technically, illegal of me to pull out and turn left in front of them.
Rule 3: If you have the right of way, take it; otherwise, you’re just confusing everybody.
OK, that last one isn’t a CMS drop-off/pick up rule, but I’m throwing it in to remind folks of their other driving responsibilities.
I finally turn left, make my way to the four-way stop, wait my turn and then turn left again onto Hasty Road so I can get back to East DeKalb Street.
But, very soon afterward, I’m practically forced to stomp on my brake pedal because another parent has decided to drop off their kid on the side of the road at the corner of Hasty Lane. It’s bad enough they nearly caused me to wreck into their backside, but they’re, once again, forcing their child to cross a heavily trafficked road.
So, back to Rule 2: Don’t drop off your child on the side of the road; use the car rider line.
As I did nearly two and a half years ago, I’d like to end on a positive. Recently, I attended the 8th Grade production of Beauty & The Beast. It was great and I’m very proud of my older son for doing a good job playing Hector, the grandfather clock. Considering they put it together in just five days ... Bravo!