School traffic safety issues tough to solve

Traffic issues near schools likely will continue as long as there are students and schools. How to make these areas safe is the big question.

Recently, a Negaunee Middle School student’s foot was run over by a car as she walked across Teal Lake Avenue. The accident could have been more serious, and thankfully, the student didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries.

Fortunately, Negaunee Public Schools is looking into the issue and considering various possibilities. For the time being, a crossing assistant will be at Teal Lake Avenue and Peck Street, helping kids determine when it’s safe to walk across the street.

Looking both ways to see if traffic is coming is something that should be drilled in every person’s head as soon as they are cognizant. An adult can’t be with a kid every single minute, be it at a school crossing, busy street or remote country road.

At the same time, an adult has to be aware of oncoming traffic as well.

Let’s face it: It’s easy to become distracted no matter what the age.

Schools, however, tend to attract many kids who have less life experience, and that means fewer streets they’ve crossed in their young lifetimes.

So, what’s the answer? A lighted intersection? Pedestrian signs in the middle of streets? More crossing assistants?

It might help, at least in Negaunee’s case, for parents to drop off their kids in less-congested areas, watching them as they safely get to the sidewalks.

And if the kids walk to school, an occasional “refresher course” in stressing the importance of looking both ways is something parents should consider.

The Negaunee school district also is working with the Safe Routes to School movement in Lansing to do just that: make safe routes to school.

SRTS is an international movement, now a federal program, to make it “safe, convenient and fun” for children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school, according to the website SRTS initiatives also help ease traffic jams, among other goals.

SRTS, however, is just one tool that can be used to increase traffic safety around schools. Perhaps there isn’t just one solution, but a combination of many solutions, and that includes being aware of a problem and considering options.

We urge the community to be educated. A child’s life depends on it.