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Student Drop Off Danger Not Worth the Risk

I call it "Drop-Off Russian Roulette," and it's the time of year again when many parents of school-age children choose to play this dangerous game on a daily basis.

When my middle school-age son comes into my bedroom with that hang-dog look on his face at 6:45 a.m. and announces that his bike has its umpteenth flat tire, it means just one thing I'm going to have to put a robe over my pajamas and try to make my hair lie flat. I have just been given two minutes notice that he needs a ride to school.

It's not that I really mind the unplanned excursion. What I cannot abide are the unbelievably dangerous acts of the countless parents who join the school "drop-off" fray.

The school conveniently provides several safe areas next to the curb and out of traffic for parents to line up and discharge their offspring. On any given morning, the harried parents of a good number of children conveniently forget that these areas exist.

Do parents really drop off their children across the street from school and allow them to bob-and-weave through dense traffic like a squirrel on the freeway just to save themselves a few minutes of traffic wrangling on their way to work?

Will their little ones really be tardy and labeled for life as "punctually challenged" if they don't double park and let their children jump out of the door behind the driver so that they can attempt to dart surreptitiously through an endless flow of moving steel?

Or, perhaps some people believe that the penalties for stopping at a red curb don't kick in until after they have unloaded their precious cargo.

Then again, maybe it is not common knowledge that a U-turn is illegal on a two-way residential street. Although, I would think that it would only require a little common sense to realize that the move isn't going to work too well in a huge SUV or minivan.

The U-turn suddenly becomes a four-point turn; all executed while trying not to back into or run over one of the other illegally dropped children that have now been forced to take evasive action.

Essentially many of these parents are taking just one baby step beyond opening the door while the car is still moving and giving junior a shove.

These parents aren't bad people.

I know this because I see them at back-to-school nights and the children's sporting events. What boggles my mind is how so many people who obviously love their children can take such unnecessary chances with their children's well-being when it comes to dropping them off and picking them up from school.

Yes, all these acts are against the law. I could quote a Vehicle Code violation and a fine for each of these transgressions. To what purpose? If the potential danger to one's child is not a deterrent, I can't believe that my ranting about dollar here or there is going to make an ounce of difference.

Michelle Groh-Gordy is the owner of InterActive! Traffic School at and writes a syndicated weekly column on driving for the publications of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.