Even a painted crosswalk with flashing lights, complete with children in it, isn’t enough to stop some drivers.
Randy Stenger discovered that frightening fact last week when his 10-year-old daughter came home sobbing, after she was nearly hit on 30th Street SE by a vehicle near Shuswap Middle School.
“She was pretty freaked out there for a couple of days,” he said, explaining that the vehicles coming up the hill towards the crosswalk at Okanagan Avenue had stopped, but two others heading towards the highway just zoomed through.
“I’m just glad that she was actually paying attention to her surroundings.”
Stenger lives near the school and he can see 30th from his window.
“Four out of five vehicles speed through,” he says. “RCMP used to have more of a presence in school zones. The last couple of years we’ve seen them two or three times.”
He said when volunteers set up the reader board he can see the drivers put on their brakes. About three years ago he saw police parked at King’s Christian School nabbing speeders and Stenger went out and thanked them.
Stenger fears a child will be hit.
“It’s inevitable – it’s going to happen one day. People think school zones don’t apply – it’s insane.”
Tamara Carlson has witnessed the same thing on 30th, just a little farther up at the crosswalk leading to the SASCU Sports Field. Her two daughters, 10 and 13, walk home together from the middle school.
“My 13-year-old has told me a few times she’s actually had to jump out of the way. In talking to other parents, it’s not just my children,” Carlson says.
“She said she started to go – one was stopped and the other one was quite a bit back. She said she actually had to jump back, because the guy went right on through.”
Carlson said she has seen a police presence periodically, and she’s noticed that reader boards work for a short distance and then drivers speed up again.
She would like to see police at the crosswalks, not just in the general school zones.
Carlson thinks what works at elementary schools might be a solution.
“To be honest, I think at the middle school, they’re a little old for crossing guards, but if that’s what it would take, then that’s what it would take.”
Regarding police presence, Staff Sgt. Scott West encourages citizens to lodge a complaint with the school and the police.
“I have liaison officers and if the reports aren’t made to the police and the school, we don’t know we have a problem – that is if they have not already done so,” he stated in an email to the Observer.
West also said he will tell officers about the problem.
“We did do our initial blitz but it may very well require further attention. For sure I will mention it to the membership.”