Back to school here in Henderson and the Las Vegas Valley. Children walking or riding bikes to school, some for the first time. Parents worrying about their children’s safety. School bus drivers picking up and dropping off their little charges. Drivers hopefully attending to school zone signs and students.
This year there is a difference. Our school zone signs have changed, some say for the better and some for the worse. Now drivers are to proceed slowly in school zones, give way with caution “when children are present”. There are no more times on the signs and this concerns parents. I know we always check the time on the clock in our car when we are driving through school zones, but this didn’t mean we didn’t watch out for stragglers, too.
Some wonder what will happen if children have extracurricular classes, or if they leave for school early. What if a single child is hurrying to get to school on time? Parents find the wording on the signs confusing, and I am sure that vigilant drivers will, too. What, exactly does “when children are present” mean? Is it one child? A small group? A crowd? Will this give children false confidence at crosswalks, or will it make them more cautious. Will it even matter?
Some experts say drivers will be more cautious searching for children if they believe they may be “present” or if they see small groups of children.
Really? How many of us have seen drivers blithely ignore school zone signs altogether, even when times are posted? Are they going to be more vigilant “just in case,” especially if there is no police presence to enforce the new signage?
City Public Works may be right that this is another cost-cutting measure, since previously new signs had to go up every time schools changed their bell times. Haven’t we cut enough costs with recent budget slashes and loss of teachers and support staff?
The Henderson Police say that they will be enforcing the signs at peak times, before and after school, in the interest of the safety of the children. That will be a good thing, but can they enforce every school, every day? I hope so.
On another safety note, flashing yellow turn signals are being installed at almost 80 Henderson intersections this year. These left turn signals, with four lights, will replace older signals with five indicator lights, allowing cars to make left-hand turns after yielding to oncoming traffic. It’s been determined that drivers “misinterpret” the meaning of green on a stop light or turn arrow, and may make risky decisions based solely upon the color of the light. That should come to no surprise to anyone who has ever walked or driven in this town!
The new flashing-arrow display shows a left turn so it’s more obvious to drivers that it’s only for left turns. It’s yellow, so drivers are supposed to know to yield, since it gives a different message than green.
One can only hope that this results in less accidents, less danger to the pedestrian and that drivers finally learn to recognize the colors that our children all learned in primary grades! As children learn in preschool “Red means stop and green means go, yellow watch out you better go slow!”