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Impatience teaches disregard for others, and this can be found in a simple act such as walking or carpooling to the local school. Recently, an article on the cover of the Los Angeles Times pictured people, coincidentally including my aunt and two baby cousins in tow, in a crosswalk at Gould Avenue and Knight Way. My sister and brother walk the same route in order to minimize congestion and chaos at drop off. At any given moment, an irritated or preoccupied driver might rush through this intersection with potential tragic consequences. This is a family safety concern, but it also is a larger community and even national issue of safety. Children have the right to feel safe to and from school. What message is being taught by impatient drivers to their own children, the passengers in their cars, and pedestrians on their way to school? Reckless and inconsiderate drivers demonstrate to children that safety is not the top priority.

Children have the right to feel safe traveling to and from school. Truly, La Canada is generalized as extremely safe and protected by all. However, we need to address this problem before an accident occurs. “Every year in the United States, at least 100 children are killed in collisions while walking to or from school.”(Timothy J Ryan and Associates) This catastrophic number of kids death per year is 100 too many. Luckily, there have been no reports of any injuries or accidents in PCY’s carpool yet. However, if parents continue to lack patience and exhibit bad driving manners, it will only be a matter of time before something awful happens.

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Employees and volunteers should feel safe, respected, and appreciated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For example, a mother in a rush is next up in line with one more walkway to cross until her vehicle is right in front of the school. There is a beautiful open space just the perfect size for her car. All of a sudden, the school crossing guard stops her lane of traffic in front of where she so desires to park, providing the space to another parent. Though this mom knows it is important to remain calm and collected, she unleashes her inner beast through honks, screams, curses, and sometimes a vicious slam on the brakes. Volunteer PTA members, who so generously offer their time, manage the car line and get to see this havoc of ruthless parents firsthand. Many have stopped volunteering due to fear when confronting the angry mother. Principal Carrie Hetzel describes, “They’re cursed at, they’re yelled at – it’s uncalled for… We can’t even keep crossing guards at our school anymore. They quit because parents are so rude and yell at them every day.”(Los Angeles Times) This immature behavior is embarrassing. Yes, it is understood that some parents may be rushing late to work, or stand fed up with slow going traffic, but the annoyance from these situations should not be taken out on the crossing guards doing their duty. Without a doubt, elementary school crossing guards should be praised by all, thanks to their valor and allegiance. School crossing guards so very bravely risk their lives for the safety of students, marching out into the middle of oncoming traffic with nothing to protect themselves but a red shield of faith that reads STOP. They valiantly guide helpless students and other pedestrians through and away from this warzone each and every day with a smile. Though they deserve the world for their selfless courage, they receive no salute. Instead, too many of them suffer mal ridicule and persecution from the parents.

Parents need to teach the importance of safety for their own children as well as others. Kids are like sponges. Everything children hear and observe is recorded in their curious brains and becomes part of their world. Parents’ ill behavior becomes the norm. This is exactly why parents need to set the tone and be good examples. For instance, the student in a backseat who watches mom or dad obnoxiously weave through the car line, cutting off all in their path, teaches that safety can be ignored as long as they are guaranteed first to the finish line. Certainly, through the eyes of a parent, no child is more valuable than their own. Therefore, parents will not have the same concerns for other children. It’s warming to know that this community is filled with families who look out and care for their own, but also disappointing that this carline situation delivers an, “every family for themselves” message. Perhaps impatient drivers teach that the first one to the finish line guarantees greater success. Perhaps they teach one should climb over anyone and everyone to get to the top. Perhaps, they teach their passengers that reckless actions have no consequence. Perhaps, instead, parents should teach the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In conclusion, the standoff at Knight Way and Gould is not just a traffic issue; this is personal and must be solved by each family recommitting to patience and goodwill to one another. Our traffic problem is a symptom of society’s loss of civility at every level, from PCY to the White House. Changing the traffic pattern is not enough. We need to be a community, not a rat race. We need to teach our children respect for others and we need to show appreciation for those who try and keep them safe.

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