A sign of the times


We’ve all seen them by now — those menacing yellow “MAXIMUM 30” signs posted around school zones in Winnipeg to get drivers to slow down.

JVG_SignOfTimes_300This is enforced from September to June, effective 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. I do agree with it. Over the years I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions when my fellow motorists whip through a crosswalk where patrols are posted, or even speeding too close to unsupervised kids that could inadvertently cross the cars’ path.

With my daughter following in her Mom’s footsteps this year and becoming a noble school patrol, this change could not have come at a better time! Because? People are stupid, so yes Winnipeggers, it has come to this.

I may agree with the logic, but I’m not necessarily happy about it either. I’m human too. I calculated that I drive through three, possibly four school zones on my way to work every day, where I had always made a conscious effort to reduce my speed in the past. Not because I had to, but because I needed to. I’m the person that even lets the kids cross the street in front of their school where there is and sometimes isn’t a marked crosswalk. It’s everyone’s job to make sure everyone’s kids get to where they are going in a safe manner, whether you are a parent or not. Speed kills, so does hesitation. Kids are unpredictable no matter how much you have drilled into their head about vehicle and roadway safety.

So, with these brand-spanking new, shiny and intimidating signs in place, I decided during a leisurely summer morning drive on my way to work, when the traffic is subdued, to drive the distance at the posted 30 km/h. Wow, I think I can bike faster, maybe even walk.

“Hmmmmm. How is this going to go over with everyone?” I wondered to myself. I’ll abide by it as best as I can, but you better believe it will be a nice juicy tax grab for the first little while. It will take some time for most.

My biggest concern is the safety factor and I’m not referring to the students at this point. I’m more suggesting the rear-ending factor. People who won’t be paying attention to the cars that slow down suddenly in front of them because, let’s be honest, paying attention to the car in front doesn’t always happen. Then of course you have the people who have a need for speed, regardless of the posted signs, and that’s when the road rage will kick in. We’ve all seen it before.

Unfortunately, it will be us, the fairly conscientious drivers that will be nailed most often out of a moment of absent-mindedness. Will the powers that be give a “cushion” speed? Like an additional 1, 2 or 5 km/h over the posted sign? Maybe I better start up a swear jar just to cover my fines at this point.

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