Dave Foe’s View: Back to school means all eyes on the road. Yes, that means you

With kids returning to school this week, most RCMP detachments in the province are issuing their cookie-cutter press releases of back-to-school safety tips. Blah, blah, excited children forget safety rules. Blah, blah drivers need to look out for darting children with lunch pails, etc. No, the preceding is not me diminishing the importance of such messages, but rather what it must sound like to many Morinville motorists who hear the annual message re school and road safety. Seems to me people simply aren’t listening or if they are, they don’t seem to give two thoughts in a twin hula hoop about it.

Since children left school earlier this summer, I have personally witnessed the Frogger-like manoeuvres pedestrians have to make just to cross 100 Avenue at a cross walk in this town. I’ve seen the Indy-500 driving on our residential streets by young ball-cap-wearing, gangster-rap-listening posterior orifices with too much car and not enough give a damn. And I’ve witnessed countless children riding and skating to and fro throughout town without bike helmets on their precious little heads. The former two categories of idiot leaves me shaking my head, the latter leaves me wanting to smack parents upside the head with a bike helmet or – if available – one of those really solid metal lunch pails we used to lug to school. Preferably one loaded with concrete because that’s what their kid is going to whack his or her precious little noggin on when he or she falls off their bike trying to outmanoeuvre some Jersey Shore wannabe texting how awesome he is to be taking residential corners on two wheels.

As Jack Nicholson said in that Michael Keaton Batman flick – “This town needs an enema.” And what needs to be flushed out of municipal traffic bowels in this civic cleansing are the poor driving habits of some Morinville drivers and those just passing through at usually rapid speeds.

So I offer the following advice to drivers, pedestrians and law enforcement.

Drivers, you need to wake up – plain and simple. Those of you riding along 100 Avenue en route to wherever the hell you are off to in such a hurry; you are driving through a town, a town with children in it, children who are crossing a provincial highway cutting through their town. When you see someone stopped on a highway, assume they are stopping for a pedestrian crossing the road and not stopping to make a turn without signalling. When you see a pedestrian crossing, stop. It’s the law.

To those of you whipping through side streets in your little sports cars or big compensating-for-something shiny trucks, slow the hell down. Morinville is a town where people prefer to park in the streets and not in their driveways. Kids pop out from between street-parked vehicles like gophers from freshly-dug holes. You will hit one of them. It is only a matter of time.

To parents – buy your kid a helmet and make them wear it. If they are under 18, it is the law. It is not a lot of protection against Jersey Shore wannabe drivers racing through side streets or nose picking truck drivers racing along 100 Avenue, but it is better than the nothing you are wrapping their melon in presently.

To asphalt walking teenagers – Stop walking up residential streets five abreast as if you are entitled to do so. Morinville has plenty of sidewalks for you to walk on. Well…except for South Glens as we are all constantly reminded by the good folks over there. Taking up the whole of the road and making legitimate drivers wait for you to decide if you are going to get out of the way is just a selfish thing to do. You are not elk or bighorn sheep licking salt in a provincial park. Move over and stop giving the rest of your generation a bad name.

To the police and bylaw officers of Morinville – keep ticketing speeders racing through school zones, but we really want to hear people whining about getting $575 tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians. That would change it up a bit in town. We want to hear people complaining about that and for getting a ticket for texting, and for racing through residential streets. It won’t be their fault, of course, but it says our police take student and pedestrian safety beyond the annual safety-time press releases. We know you do, but seeing someone getting a ticket for not stopping at a cross walk would be like hitting a short line up at a Tim Hortons, and we all know how seldom that happens in this province.

To children – Watch where you are walking, riding, skating, and always assume your next step could be in the path of a driver, possibly one going fast with no real grasp on anything surrounding them, least of all you.

Kids are back in school today and pedestrian safety really is a two-way street. So as drivers and pedestrians, we need to watch out for each other. Pity we need to be reminded of this so often.

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