OPINION: School zone chaos

The next time Hollywood needs to film a scene of mass chaos for the latest end-of-the-world thriller — think epic traffic jams, desperate drivers and a crush of humanity — the Las Vegas Valley has hundreds of potential locations, no casting calls necessary.

The pickup and drop-off scenes at scores of local schools are that bad.

This is nothing new. The long lines of cars, the hurried parents, the dangerous driving and illegal parking have gone on for years. The Clark County School District keeps coming up with better and better ways of managing the beginning and end of each school day, but there’s only so much administrators and teachers can do. Many roads simply can’t handle hundreds of cars arriving within a 15-minute window.

So school parking lots have been closed off, “kiss-and-go” lanes staffed, and radios utilized to try to keep traffic moving. The Review-Journal’s Richard Lake reported Tuesday that Bozarth Elementary, with an enrollment of 1,000 students, has managed to improve traffic flow even as the school has grown.

But an entire summer’s worth of planning can be undone when drivers do monumentally stupid things, like barrel through crosswalks when children are crossing, shoot past school buses, double park or let their kids out of the vehicle in the middle of traffic. The scene brings out the worst in many adults.

A lot of the problems are rooted in our increasingly paranoid parenting culture. More and more kids aren’t allowed to walk to school. And the school district typically opens playgrounds just 15 minutes before the bell, creating a shorter window for arrival. How about opening playgrounds earlier to spread out the traffic?

Like shopping at Costco on a Saturday afternoon, school pickup and drop-off will never be a speedy errand. Whether you’re dropping off, picking up or just trying to get through a school zone, take a deep breath, slow down and don’t make things worse.

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