A few years ago, a child was struck by a motorist while crossing the turnpike from Oak Ridge High School. Last year, I monitored that area and observed numerous motorist violations that put students and adults in danger. Frequently, vehicles would come within inches of hitting students.
During my 2 month stint in 2007 as a volunteer crossing guard at the Illinois Ave./Roberstville Rd. intersection, I encountered speeders and red light runners every morning. For the hour I stood at that corner, it was not uncommon to see as many as 15 vehicles run red lights and hundreds more speeding well over 45mph.
The city rightly concluded that both of these areas posed serious dangers to students and they responded accordingly. First, they designated the areas as school zones and implemented a 20mph speed limit. Overall, motorist behavior did not change. The city then installed more signage and flashing lights. Those were largely ignored. They hired crossing guards. Negligent motorists turned the situation into a real-life game of Frogger. When police presence was ramped up, drivers slowed down temporarily, only to regress back into reckless behavior when the authorities departed. Then speed and red light cameras were installed, and voila! Driver behavior changed and people finally got the message and slowed down.
Given all of this, I find it pathetic that a select few adults (who whine worse than my three year old) continue to expend a tremendous amount of energy fighting to protect law-breakers instead of our children. I for one applaud the city’s continued efforts to improve the safety of our students, pedestrians, and overall citizenry. We’ve come a long way in the last few years and, thus far, the results of these cameras unequivocally prove their necessity and value. Driving is not a right; it is a privilege. If you insist on breaking the law (or defending those who do), then you get what you deserve. Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine.