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Sergeant Sandoval and Officer Knutson's Safety Corner

"ROAD RAGE!"

by Officer Sal Sandoval

 

As the sun rises every day, some parents are arriving home from their long evening, some are preparing to begin their day, others are merely on a break from their tasks.  At a specific time of the morning here at Newark Memorial High School, all of these parents join a convoy of teenage drivers trying to get to school, staff members trying to get to work, and citizens just passing by.  The time of morning that this occurs is highly predictable every day.  Between 7:35 am and 7:45 am, all of these drivers pass by the school, make an attempt to enter the school parking lots to drop off students, or to find a parking space.  This combination of drivers, all with their own agenda, is a chain reaction of emotions waiting to explode.

 

I know all to well the frustration of trying to get your children to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get in the car so they could arrive to school on time and you can get your destination.  I also know all to well the frustration of time seeming to speed up when waiting in traffic and 60 seconds feels like 10 minutes.  You watch you clock tick and cars don't seem to move fast enough.  The car in front of you seems to be driving so slow and without consideration for your time.  At this point, driver's feel the anger creeping up.

For some, all it would take to be pushed over the line is an inconsiderate driver to not wait their turn in the traffic line and cut in front of everyone.  I ask all drivers who reach this limit to stop and think about your next decision to honk, scream, curse, or confront.

 

As the officer assigned to the campus, it is part of my duty to promote traffic safety for the children and staff at this school.  To the parents; it's your children.  To the staff; it's your students.  To the students; it's you.

 

As an educational institution, we are trying to teach your student lessons to make them successful adults.  We supplement the teachings in the home by the parents.  Teachings such as being on time, responsibility, and courtesy.  These teachings are on top of the science and math lessons.  

 

The 2015 - 2016 school year only saw a few incidents of "road rage."  Parents who were unable to control their emotions and stepped over the line.  This is detrimental to the other social lessons we try to teach our students such as conflict management and respect.  The students are at the age where they are developing these social skills.  However, when they witness a parent or role model unable to control their emotions, the action they witness has been observed to affect the way the student interacts with other students or staff.  In a sense, it has empowered your student to mimic your actions at school.  Lessons by a parent, even if they were not intentional, have a lasting effect on the student.  I ask you to please, think before you act in the presence of the children we have been entrusted to teach.

 

Remember, there is a greater good to the traffic cones you see controlling your movements and the Crossing Guards/Campus Monitors directing you across our campus.  These Crossing Guards/Campus Monitors have the safety of all pedestrians in mind. A Parents yelling at them, insulting them, and cursing them were also actions which were witnessed the last school year.  Failure to obey a Crossing Guard also is a traffic law violation.  Fortunately, the number of incidents were very minimal but just one incident can effect the entire day.  Most parents gave them positive comments which were very appreciated and I thank you.  

 

Another part of my duty on the campus to help promote traffic safety is enforcement of laws.  It is an unpopular necessity.  It certainly does not gain positive comments.  Education or "warnings" come in many forms to the drivers operating a motor vehicle on or near the campus and to the bicyclists riding to and from school.  Some of the education to drivers was presented on this web page, on the public message board in front of the school, by verbally notifying students during daily campus announcements, and by use of traffic control signs, devices, and displays.  Enforcement is necessary to prevent traffic collisions and to reduce traffic on the roadways surrounding the school.

 

When in the traffic line to enter the campus, it is tempting to break the rules, violate the law, "just this one time."  Your one time decision to disobey a law because you are running late has numerous consequences.  Your student who is in the car with you and very impressionable, will observe your disobedience to the law.  The message contradicts any integrity teachings they may receive.  "Doing the right thing even when no one is watching."  Now, your decision may prompt other drivers to follow your lead causing further traffic and unsafe conditions.  

 

Several combinations of violations exist when you decide to stop in the "Bus Loading Area" in front of the school which is marked by traffic control signs.  Attached below, you will see a sample portion of the 2016 Uniformed Bail Schedule for the California Courts.  http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/SP15-10.pdf  The total bail for violations are listed within the right column.  

 

Bail Schedule.JPG
 

What can we do to avoid "Road Rage" and minimize the frustration caused by traffic?  First, we must accept that traffic is a part of our lives in our area.  The traffic can be minimized by following these tips which are based on my observations the last school year:

 

  1. Leave home earlier to avoid the heavy traffic.
  2. Utilize the surrounding areas to drop off your student.  There are many shopping centers and adjacent roadways near the school where students can be dropped off and you can avoid the traffic forming on Cedar Boulevard.  Students can then utilize the crosswalks and walk past the traffic.
  3. Arrange a carpool with other parents.  One less car is helpful towards the goal of minimizing traffic.  
  4. Consider alternate transportation. (Bus, bicycle, walking).

I am available to all parents, students, and staff who may have an observation or idea for improvement.  The role of keeping our students should be a partnership between all interests involved.  Thank you for getting involved and supporting this difficult duty.