Cars need to slow down near schools

March 27, 2013 

Slow down in school zones

I walk my first-grade grandson to and from school every day when I am visiting Fort Mill. So far, this amounts to about 30 days over the past year and a half. During that time I have witnessed cars nearly hitting the crossing guard, Carol Johnson, as she tries to stop traffic for the large numbers of kids and parents trying to get across Pleasant Road.

I doubt if most cars are slowing to the designated 35 mph, which must be unique to this county as most states require 20 mph or less. In December I observed a car pass a stopped school bus with its lights on and stop sign out and students boarding, nearly hitting a child. On a recent Monday I watched a blue sedan drive by the crossing guard, missing her by no more than five feet. Very few cars stop when pedestrians are standing at the edge of the street waiting to cross in the crosswalk.

It generally takes the guard more than a minute with her lighted sign and yellow vest the get the flow to stop.

Here’s what is done where I live in Bend, Ore.: 1. All school zones are designated 20 mph with large flashing lights suspended over the crosswalk. 2. Several times a year the Bend Police Dept. operate “stings,” well-announced ahead of time, with the local television station filming the crosswalk. Motorists who run through the crosswalk when a pedestrian enters will get stopped, cited, filmed by the television crew and be on the 5 o’clock news that evening. Knowing this, anyone driving in the city of Bend uses great caution when nearing any crosswalk, particularly near a school, myself included.

Until the law is changed, speed limits in school zones lowered and strict enforcement takes place I fear that our children in Fort Mill are at great risk when walking to and from school.

Until that happens we must rely on the courage and dedication of crossing guards like Carol Johnson and police officers like York County Deputy Sheriff Melvin Billingsley, who are doing terrific jobs at great personal risk.

Ed Tillinghast

Retired high school principal and teacher

Bend, Ore.

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