Playground, school zone proposal a head-scratcher

Who doesn’t miss uncomplicated?

Who doesn’t miss uncomplicated?

There is a proposal to alter the playground and school zones according to a recent story in the Advocate. This is not exactly a “stop the presses” story but it bothers me for many reasons, so let me explain why this story irritates me.

There used to be an uncomplicated system here in Red Deer when it came to playground and school zones. School zone signs were blue and white while playground zone signs were yellow and black. You didn’t have to think a lot about the differences between the two concepts.

Then they made the signs virtually indistinguishable and forced people to actually understand which zone had which hours.

That is a tall order for too many drivers because it forced them to think about the rules of the road. Am I presently in a playground zone or am I in a school zone and, more importantly, have I ever had solid enough analytical skills to make an informed decision about anything?

Let’s face it, the answer is “no” for a huge segment of licensed drivers so they fall back to a default position in which they drive slowly through both zones during daylight hours.

It may be five in the morning or evening but I have no real idea about this or any other concept, so I will idle through this school zone.

The problem is that a better-informed driver recognizes that school zones operate within times most likely to include travel to and from school when kids are likely to be on the street. This does not include weekends, holidays and any other time that kids are not in school.

It just seems so simple but it isn’t for too many people who have no idea how their lack of understanding of such a basic traffic concept frustrates drivers around them. We automatically assume that you are not particularly bright.

We feel grateful that breathing is an autonomic response that ensures your personal survival because it requires no actual thought process on your part. Then we wish that you would park your rig until you learn the basic rules of the road, and we’re counting on never.

Alberta Transportation decided to hold a series of unnecessary and expensive public meetings for changes to both zones’ hours when the answer is simple: Go back to two separate colour schemes and post the hours under the signs.

Instead, the proposal would have school zone hours continuously from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. because it would eliminate any necessity of specific hours during this time when higher speed limits would apply. In short, it caters to stupid people but it does solve the problem of confusion for the easily confused.

I have a bigger problem with the new playground hours which extend from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. — yup, that’s right — 9 p.m.

Is there an urgent need for 9 p.m. playground hours during the bulk of the year here in Alberta when we are freezing in the dark? Is 50 km/h at 8:36 p.m. in December in a playground zone with a -38C wind chill really a ticket-worthy offense? The answer is absolutely not.

Let them know what you think at

Jim Sutherland may be reached at

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