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Ralston Accident should never have happened

Original post made by Safety First on May 3, 2007

The accident yesterday at Ralston Middle School should never have happened. We need to put barriers up at our schools between traffic and our kids. The kids should have been watching for cars doing stupid things, but since kids never do, we have to protect them better. (I am in no way blaming the kids, but being alert to traffic is always wise.)

We should get safety fences at the drop off areas outside all our schools. Cars and buses should drive to a safe break in these barriers and there should be a short inner barrier at this spot to prevent distracted drivers plowing into waiting students. This accident has happened before in other places. We must protect our kids better. Yes, it may cost money, but so does restriping roads to supposedly calm traffic. This is one instance where the money spent would undoubtedly be worth it. Yes, it may make drop off/pick up more time, but safety should be our priority.

Lets get rid of all the unbarricaded drop off areas around our schools and make them safe!

Comments (9)

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Most of the PA schools don't really have a "drop off area" since they were designed as neighborhood schools that kids walk to.

Posted by Safety First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2007 at 12:52 pm

Maybe the design of the schools was for walking, but now that has changed and outside all our schools are no parking areas, or red curbs, which mean they are used as drop off areas. These areas are where kids wait, often too close to the curb, and do not pay attention to traffic. These are the areas that should be behind barriers with gaps for passageway with inner barriers inside so that any passenger dropped off or being picked up would have to zig zag through.

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2007 at 2:01 pm

I agree with your concern, but I'm not sure it would work at most schools, at Hays some parents drop kids off in the school lot, some near the Jr. Museum, some on the other side of Riconada, etc., at Duveneck some are dropped near the office, some on Channing, some near the kindergarden classes, at Addison kids are dropped of all around the whole block, at Jordan kids are dropped in the parking lot, in front of the school and in a small teachers lot (and some parents just stop on Middlefield), you get my point. I don't think too many kids are waiting for pick-up in elementary school, the majority of parents park and go on to campus. It would work in the middle schools, but might create a reverse safety issue of trapping kids in if there was a fire.

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 3, 2007 at 2:27 pm

I like the idea of a barrier. I am from England and I was very surprised to see no barriers of any type at the main entrances of schools when I moved here. At Palo Verde, there is always a throng of children at the front of the school by the flag pole waiting for parents to arrive at pick up time and it would be easy for them to step backwards into the road. At the back of the school where the buses come there is a big fence with a small gate and this seems a lot more sensible as children can wait inside the fence until their particular bus arrives and then go out.

Posted by think outside the car, a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2007 at 1:00 am

Wait -- isn't this thread supposed to be about safety? Then let's focus on what really makes our drop off areas so unsafe! It's that there are too many _cars_ driven by parents around our schools (and at our high schools, too many cars driven by students). The problem is that these parents are only concerned with delivering their child "safely" to school -- not with the safety of all the children who are walking and biking.

But the way we will make the front of our schools safe is _not_ by building expensive barriers to protect against elderly grandparents driving overpowered trucks they don't know how to control. Real safety is about enforcing rules for safe driving, like no cell phone use while dropping off, and making it impossible to go more than 10 miles an hour in a drop off area.

Check out this link for an eyeopening simulation of how driver behavior choices (speeding, using a cell phone, drinking) dramatically increase the chance of injury or death:
Web Link
Why don't safety campaigns on this country focus on changing the drivers' behavior that puts everyone else at risk

Let's raise awareness that driving your child around in an SUV is _not_ the way to protect them from danger (even if the parent is only concerned about their own child and not about other children on the street). How many parents understand that SUV rollover is a real risk, much more likely to cause a child harm than stranger abduction or being injured while biking to school? Why do so many parents overestimate the dangers of walking and biking, while underestimating the dangers they expose their child to as passengers in their own vehicles?

Children who are driven to school also do not learn important independence skills, let alone how to cross streets safely. They are less likely to adopt healthy habits of physical activity that have huge, lifelong health benefits. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol -- these are showing up in inactive kids whose parents think that driving them around keeps them safe.

Real safety involves reducing the number of cars around our schools, and encouraging more families to walk and bike together to school more often, and making it safe for people not surrounded by tons of steel to use our streets.

Posted by Safety First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2007 at 8:40 am

While I do agree with all the comments about walking/biking to school, the kids waiting at Ralston were actually waiting for a bus. I think that using buses to school is definitely a safer option than everyone going by their own family car - but that is not what this thread is about.

A two rail safety barrier, which is strong enough to prevent a low speed accident, will not impede children getting out of a school in the event of a fire. In any case, I believe that for fire drills at schools, the rules are that they all exit their classrooms and meet on the grass field.

Posted by Ralston Student, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2007 at 9:10 pm

The students waiting in line were very "aware" and some even managed to pull their friends to safety. If you haven't see the Ralston parking lot, then you really shouldn't comment on this issue. My friends waiting for the bus weren't the problem. Traffic on Ralston isn't the issue. Transportation by bus isn't the topic we should be discussing.

Kids NEED to take the bus at Ralston because there would be way too much traffic otherwise. Ralston Ave is already pretty busy around the end of the school day.

This is just a traffic accident that could have happened ANYWHERE. "Safety First" doesn't know what they're talking about.

Posted by another ralston student., a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I agree with my fellow Ralston student.
I witnessed the accident and the students could not have possibly seen this coming.
This is not a transportation problem.

Posted by another ralston student., a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I agree with my fellow Ralston student.
I witnessed the accident and the students could not have possibly seen this coming.
This is not a transportation problem.

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