We start each year with the best of intentions. The City of Camarillo puts a fresh coat of paint on our crosswalks. Our School Resource Officer, Deputy Leo Cobian, is out and about with his super cool Dodge Charger. Our motorbike officers make hurried motorists think twice by hanging out near busy corners and issuing citations to harried parents. There are press releases and newsletter articles and announcements and Facebook posts and robo-calls and STILL, by this time every year at least one student has been hit by a car. In my 9 years at PVSD I’ve seen a parent run over their own child’s foot in the drop off line, kids riding bikes the wrong way in bike lanes, and I’ve nearly hit at least two girls that darted out from behind an ice-cream truck to hop into their parent’s cars parked across the street. Two years ago, I was rear-ended when coming to a stop in front of Tierra Linda, last year I saw a child struck in a crosswalk, and just last week I witnessed the aftermath of a student being hit by a car on my way to Las Colinas…or maybe it was a car hit by a student? Luckily, no serious injuries occurred in any of those instances.
When are we going to learn?
Studies show that walking and riding bikes to school increases attention span in the classroom, strengthens communities, and helps maintain health. Our city does a great job of providing safe access for our kids to walk or ride to school. So what’s the problem?
The problem is US, and the problem is OUR KIDS.
For those of you that Drive:
SLOW DOWN: Even if your are the most law abiding citizen in the world with off the charts reflexes (this is how my husband describes himself), no one can anticipate the split second decision made by a hormonal preteen to dart out between a big black SUV and an ice cream truck so she can give a last minute hug to her friend that happens to be across the street.
PAY ATTENTION: I don’t drink coffee in the morning, so this one can be tough for me–8:00 am puts me somewhere between a state of everything being farther away than it actually is and my daily visit to LaLa Land. I get it. Watch out for those crosswalks, especially when making right and left turns. Its hard to see some of those little ones barreling off the curbs to get to school…and that includes my two boys racing each other even though I’ve told them a million times not to.
STAY OFF YOUR PHONE: Not only is it illegal to be on your phone in a school zone, or anywhere, for that matter, it is down right dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, in 2012, 24% of crashes involved drivers talking or texting on cell phones. Recent studies also show cell phone using drivers have slower reaction times than drunk drivers. Put the phone away.
For those of you that walk or ride:
FOLLOW THE RULES: Cross at corners, not the middle of the road. That extra tenth of the mile to the corner or cross walk will not kill you, it might actually make you stronger…and keep you injury free. If you are in the bike lane, act like a car–the same rules apply to you–and for crying out loud, ride in the right direction.
WEAR A HELMET: At least three quarters of bicycle related injuries can be prevented with the proper use of a helmet and adherence to bicycle safety. Following the death of a young bicyclist last Father’s Day, the Police Department is cracking down. They have been stopping unhelmeted riders under 18 and issuing citations resulting in fines up to $200. The good news is they are also acknowledging riders that wear helmets by giving them gift certificates for treats from our community businesses. If you or someone you know is in need of a helmet please contact the Camarillo Police Department. If you’d like to donate a new helmet to a needy child please contact Senior Deputy Bea Hughes at 388-5131.
Finally…From the City of Camarillo Police Department:
Parents are also reminded to teach their children proper bicycle riding safety. The Camarillo Police Department would like to remind parents that children under the age of 18 must wear helmets properly while riding a bicycle, scooter or skateboard per CVC 21212(a). Studies show that 74-85% of bicycle related injuries could have been prevented with the proper use of a helmet and using proper bicycle safety. Proper use means buying a good helmet, making sure it fits, and making sure to buckle the chinstrap, while fitting it properly under the chin. We would like to remind children to look for an intersection that has a crossing guard or a marked crosswalk before crossing, as this is the safest way to cross the street. The Camarillo Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be providing extra saturation patrols to school zones, during the first few weeks of the school year.
A bicycle is considered a vehicle and while riding you must obey the rules of the road. The Camarillo Police Department does have a limited amount of helmets and safety gear available for free, provided to families dealing with financial hardships. Feel free to contact the Community Resource Unit during regular business hours @ 388-5155. Read the complete media release.
–Kamala Nahas, President of the Camarillo Council of PTAs and mother of one hormonal teen and two kamikaze bicyclists. (They get it all from their Dad’s side of the family…)