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Chaos at the school gate. There are children, scooters, bikes and cars. Children running, dawdling, talking to each other, happy to be out of school. And there are the parents who should know better, writes Ian Munro.
Add in a school bus or two and passing vehicles giving only token acknowledgement to the school zone speed limit and it is nerve-racking stuff if you happen to get caught up in it, as I have been several times in the past couple of weeks.
You get children running out to cars as they spot mum, and mothers calling across the road or tooting their horns to attract their offspring's attention.
It is dumbfounding stuff watching the actions of these parents, who are presumably there to ensure their children get home safely.
There's usually a lone adult present attempting to keep order. However, mum's call seems to be more powerful than both teacher's and the observance of the basic rules for crossing the road.
To be fair, I also saw a good number of schools that had the management of the preschool and after school traffic well under control. I particularly liked the school that funnelled vehicles into a low-fenced "kiss and go" lane where, one car at a time, children could only open the door and alight at an opening and then be immediately safe inside the school fence.
However, the dangers don't always end there. Vehicles can depart the tangle without ensuring everyone is strapped in; and sometimes the driver's left hand is holding phone to ear, perhaps to report to another parent that young Jimmy's been picked up and is safe. We just hope they do make it home safely.
There seems to be an arrogance operating in too many cases and a reliance on other people taking responsibility for the safety of the negligent driver and their passengers.
No doubt these mothers, and it was predominantly mothers, care for their children and want them, and any others on board if it's the school run, to be safe. And no doubt they also have a list of things they want to achieve in the next couple of hours, which is possibly what's going through their minds.
And so it is that daily at the end of the school day, across the country, you can witness normally sane and sensible people who, for no good reason, suddenly and thoughtlessly decide to play Russian roulette with the lives of the very people they would swear were the dearest people in the world to them.