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Use extra care when driving around schools
Each school year, Street Smarts fields emails from readers telling ghastly tales about the things parents do when dropping off and picking up their students from school. This year, I am witnessing some scary things occurring around schools at the wheels of drivers first hand as I am the foster parent -- with intent to adopt -- of my two little cousins, ages 7 and 9. Since school began in mid-August, I have seen three traffic collisions and heard another in the vicinity of the kids' campus during our morning walk. Two were drop off related while the other two were commuter related. The first drop off related crash I came upon after I had left "my kids" at school occurred in September. It involved a bobtail school bus and a minivan along a major artery that intersects with the school's main road. The bus, which was filled with special needs students, had T-boned the van, whose driver was slumped over her steering wheel. The school bus driver was on the radio. The kids were looking around but seemed OK. Several passersby, including a woman in medical scrubs, stopped to help the minivan driver. Vehicle parts and radiator fluid filled the intersection. Traffic was backed up and there was lots of honking as drivers tried to squeeze by and gawk. Emergency responders had yet to arrive. Sirens were off in the distance, though. The second crash was just a couple weeks ago on the main thoroughfare near school. It was a multiple car fender bender. And the third crash was this past Thursday. As I walked the oldest boy to class, I heard a horn and a crash and the horn continued to blare. Upon exiting the campus, I saw a white Honda blocking the school's driveway. Its front driver side fender has been sheared off. Car parts I the road. I didn't see the other car but the Honda driver was outside screaming at the other driver with other people trying to calm her down. Besides the obvious safety factor of following road rules and being alert during the school drop off and pick up routine, the children involved and who bare witness to these antics are future drivers. They are watching and learning from our actions. Teach them wisely. Pay attention, follow road rules and try to keep your cool. Going from being single to a "mother" of two has been interesting and following that last suggestion can be difficult. But when I hear the kids saying the things I say to other drivers in the comfort and safety of my car's bubble, well, it means I need to try harder, too. AARP classes ride again in 2014 The AARP Safe Driver program is preparing for a new year of teaching seniors traffic laws and ways aging impacts their driving. People who complete the course may qualify for a discount from their insurance company. The class fee is $20 per person for non-members and $15 for members. The eight hour course is offered in two four hour segments. New in 2014 is an experimental night court stretched out over a three week period. There also will be a 4.5 hour refresher course for previous AARP Safe Driver program participants who took the class within the last four years and are seeking to renewal of their three year certification. For dates, times, registration and locations, call Fred Dunn-Ruiz between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 426-6472.