‘Walk zone’ rule puts chil­dren in harm’s way

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Suzette Moss Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Philip’s

As a par­ent of school age chil­dren I find my­self in the same sit­u­a­tion that is be­ing faced by many par­ents across our prov­ince.

Our govern­ment has a school bus pol­icy stat­ing any child who lives within 1.6 km of their school is not en­ti­tled to take a school bus. They live in a “walk zone.” Par­ents have been plead­ing with the govern­ment for years with valid rea­sons why it is not safe for our chil­dren to walk to school, as many of us did when we were chil­dren.

There are many rea­sons why the 1.6 pol­icy should be con­sid­ered for re­vi­sion as I see it in my home town.

First of all, speed is a known fac­tor in many small towns as ev­i­dent in the radar signs that have been in­stalled. You don’t need to stand in front of these signs in Por­tu­gal Cove - St. Philip’s for very long to ob­serve that very few pass­ing cars obey the limit. We have stud­ied this our­selves. In fact, ve­hi­cles go on av­er­age of 15 km per hour over the posted limit.

We know many driv­ers are im­paired, dis­tracted while driv­ing ei­ther tex­ting, ap­ply­ing makeup, drink­ing cof­fee, talk­ing to the per­son with them or rush­ing to get to their des­ti­na­tion. I’m not sure we can trust these al­ready dis­tracted driv­ers to be watch­ing for chil­dren. We al­ready know some driv­ers have no re­spect for stopped buses with their stop sign out and lights flash­ing. Most driv­ers have wit­nessed a ve­hi­cle pass a school bus with no re­gard for the safety of chil­dren en­ter­ing or ex­it­ing a bus, re­sult­ing in some smart bus driv­ers ac­tu­ally an­gling the bus across the road to pre­vent this il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

What about the nar­row shoul­ders of the road in smaller towns? Some of these shoul­ders are nar­rower than the width of the child’s shoul­ders ex­pected to walk it. Ev­ery­one knows what hap­pens in win­ter around here: they walk on the street.

Most ra­tio­nal peo­ple would agree that the roads we walked as chil­dren in the 80s are long gone, but yet this holdover pol­icy re­mains.

Mr. Dale Kirby, the min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion and early child­hood de­vel­op­ment, has the abil­ity to change this pol­icy, but in­stead has ei­ther been ig­nor­ing the let­ters from con­cerned par­ents, or lazily send­ing out the ex­act same copy and paste job email from last year.

Take a wild guess which opposition mem­ber said in the House on Novem­ber 18, 2013 “what we re­ally need to do, be­fore the win­ter sets in, is to get this is­sue dealt with, es­pe­cially when it comes to smaller kids. Smaller kids should not have to be out there in bad weather con­di­tions. They are in dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory on some of our streets.”

I am ask­ing ev­ery af­fected par­ent in our prov­ince to re­fresh this man’s mem­ory. Email, fax and or call Mr. Dale Kirby, con­tact your MHA, voice your con­cerns to have this 1.6 pol­icy elim­i­nated to keep all our chil­dren safe.

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