Beware: Back to school means back to traffic

Here at The Acorn we couldn’t be more excited about the return of students to class. The end of summer is bittersweet, but a relief to many parents, especially those with younger children who’ve been underfoot since June, complaining about nothing to do. Let’s face it, classrooms can be a great home away from home for the little ones.

No, it’s not that we’re happy just to have the kids back under the care of someone else for several hours a day: We are generally enthusiastic about the prospects of what the new year has in store for the community’s young people.

The new year offers kids a blank slate with endless possibilities—but also uncertain outcomes. The students we dropped off on Day 1 will not be the same ones we pick up on Day 250. The whole thing is inspiring and terrifying at the same time.

Unfortunately, we don’t share the same enthusiasm for the return of school-related traffic and the dangers that accompany it.

As any parent knows, there’s something about the process of dropping off and picking up children from class that can turn ordinary drivers into the Dukes of Hazzard. The teens who drive themselves aren’t much better.

Whether it’s a parent in a rush to get to work, a senior late for an exam or just an impatient driver fed up with the school-day logjam, the stories we hear are enough to make the head spin.

Las Virgenes Superintendent Dan Stepenosky and Oak Park Superintendent Tony Knight assure us they are doing everything possible to make sure the morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups are safe. But in the final analysis the responsibility rests mostly with you, the driver, so here are some helpful tips to make sure our campus traffic remains safe and sane.

Plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time for the drive. Rushing only makes matters worse. Complete your personal grooming and finish those last bites of toast before you leave the house, not while in the car.

Keep heads on a swivel and foot squarely over the brake pedal when approaching the school zone. You’re not the only one who’s in a hurry.

Obey all campus traffic laws. No cutting in line and no cheating, please.

Try carpooling. Make new friends and save gasoline.

Most importantly, no cellphones. If the thought of striking a child walking to school won’t make you put down your device, what will? And by the way, here’s a novel idea: Tell the kids to lace ’em up and walk to school this year. Many children live within reasonable walking distance, especially to the elementary campuses. The exercise will do them good, and if more children walked or rode bicycles the obesity rate might drop. We’d certainly have less traffic congestion and pollution.

Welcome back to school, everyone, and please be safe.