Back To School

Its that time of year again! Back to school and back to a strict schedule. This has its challenges not only with trying to get kids back on a normal schedule, but traffic conditions in and around that schedule become more congested than ever.

As the lazy summer days begin to shorten and we start the school routine again, about 1/3 of the morning traffic is generated by parents driving their children to school. In the late 60's the return to school was a casual thing, and most children either walked to school or rode their bikes, as communities 50 yrs ago were safer, schools were close by and most people in those communities knew one another.  There were less cars on the road, much less hustle and bustle, and very few traffic accidents.  But today, about a third of all school-aged kids in America get to and from school by car. There are 3-4 times as many automobiles on the road today, crazy traffic everywhere, less safety to and from, and a generation of children of entitlement who demand the comforts of being chauffeured to and from, and parents who agree.

This new scenario creates more dangerous situations for the children, the parents and the other morning patrons of rush hour. This results in more child injuries and deaths, especially on high-traffic streets with on-street parking, more accidents with school buses, as well as the usual array of rush hour incidents.  And to make matters worse, delayed drivers often speed up when congestion eases, in order to makeup time, and this leads to more accidents, more road rage, and it's all spiraling into a huge ball of confusion in the mornings. These new threats to child safety can clearly be seen as both a cause and a symptom of traffic congestion in and around this new parent-child-school-traffic phenomenon of today.  On the one hand, parental concerns about traffic hazards could lead more parents to drive their children to school, thereby increasing congestion. But on the other hand, traffic congestion could lead to more child pedestrian accidents, with more backed up cars blocking the views of more small children crossing the street to enter school.

So it’s no surprise that this is a very difficult week for local traffic congestion. Parents are more harried trying to work out their morning routines, getting used to new commutes at the start of the school year, and feeling stressed, which relates to poor driving habits, if and when they don’t budget enough time, along with the stress of getting to and from work on time to pick up and deliver children to school. And, another problem exists even when kids do walk to school.  The older kids that live within easy walking distance will hitch rides to school these days. It's called hoofing! Perhaps if enough parents get stuck in enough traffic, enough times, and are late to work enough times, it might encourage them to have their older kids find a way on their own to school, and it might encourage schools and towns to  start making the necessary changes to ensure a safer way for all our kids to get to school..