Thoughts from the School Run

“Hello?  Is that the school?  Yes, hi, it’s Ian here.  I’m one of the dads.  Anyway, I just thought I’d tell you that I’ve sent the kids to school with peanut brittle today.  Yes, that’s right, peanut brittle.  Yes, that does contain nuts.  OK, thanks – bye!”

(Some minutes later a SWAT squad paid a visit to my house and my children’s classrooms, and removed the nut containing products in a container previously used for handling radioactive waste.)

“Hello?  Is that the school?  Yes, hi, it’s Ian here.  I’m one of the dads.  Anyway, I just thought I’d tell you that I’m bringing the kids to school in a 1500 kg (3300 lb) object that I intend to move at 50 kph (30 mph) along narrow streets.  Safety devices?  Yes, I’m well protected, thanks.  Oh, you meant for for other people?  Well I promise to try to not hurt them.  I’ll tell you what, you put up some nice signs, and as long as I’m not a particular hurry, and I don’t generally feel like disregarding them I’ll do what I can.”

(Some minutes later, nothing happens.  Over the years, people put up another couple of signs which, if I feel like, I’ll pay attention to)

Sarcasm is not a great way to win an argument.  But I do find myself astounded by what we’re prepared to put up with, especially when it comes to making allowances for the spectacular “convenience” of the car.  There are approximately 10 allergy deaths per year in the UK.  I don’t know how many of these happen in schools – or how many are prevented from happening in schools because of our near ubiquitous ban on nut products in schools.

There are about 400 pedestrian deaths, from road traffic per year in the UK.  This is out of 1,700 deaths from road traffic, 21,000 serious injuries and 161,000 minor injuries.  I don’t know how many of these are happening on the school run – but I know my colleagues in the emergency department dread the 0830 trauma call.  I don’t know how many of these are prevented by having, in some areas, speed restrictions and a few signs up around the school.

If we were serious about this we’d say:

“No cars or other motor vehicles allowed to move within 750 metres of schools from 0800 to 1000 and from 1500 to 1630.”  If you disagree with this, I contend that you’re saying:  “My convenience, which I’m happy to have disrupted for nut allergy, must not be disrupted to reduce the burden of road traffic accidents.” We might even get a bit more exercise – and who knows where that might take us….

Tell me I’m wrong then.

Closing note; here is a good read on a slightly different but related subject – free range parenting.

Conflict of interest:  We live very close to my children’s school, which means that driving for me would be very impractical indeed.  This means that I will not have fully thought through how the advantage to me in time might outweigh the risk of running a child over, and I might be a bit irrational about this.


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