Deputies send parents to traffic school

Halle Yuhan, left, and her daughter, Abigail
Halle Yuhan, left, and her daughter, Abigail, 9, walk across the street with caution as they pick up Halle’s daughter, Sarah, 7, at Palm Crest Elementary School in La Canada on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)

As parents drop their kids off for the start of another school year, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are patrolling during drop-off and pick-up times at La Cañada Flintridge schools to make sure drivers are following the rules, said Traffic Sgt. Mark Slater.

“It’s the first day of school, [we want] to let people see [law enforcement personnel] around the schools,” Slater said Monday. “We want people to abide by all the signs and curb markings and pay extra attention around the schools.”

Slater said that while he was posted at Palm Crest Elementary School on Palm Drive, he found plenty of opportunity to dispense information to parents.

“I told a lot of people, ‘You can’t stop there,’ ‘You can’t cross there,’ ‘You can’t turn here,’ — that type of thing,” Slater said.


Palm Crest Elementary Principal Karen Hurley said that having a deputy on hand was helpful.

“Having the Sheriffs present helps to reinforce the importance of following traffic rules at all times,” said Hurley.

Deputies were stationed at all La Cañada Flintridge schools at drop-off and dismissal time this week and will be making spot checks through the year, but Slater said the point isn’t just to try to bust violators.

“Every year you have new people, and maybe they’re not quite familiar with the way traffic flows around the schools,” said Slater. “Most schools want cars to come in one way, drop or pick up their kids, and then exit another way. It just minimizes the amount of congestion and helps improve the flowing of traffic.”


Slater said it was important for deputies to catch and correct any improper driving behaviors early.

“It’s easier to mold people’s driving at the beginning of the year than try to correct it in the middle of the year,” said Slater. “If we can get people the first couple of days to do things correctly, it goes a long way throughout the school year.”

Slater said that the worry is when parents try to save time by cutting corners.

“They sacrifice safety for convenience, and they’ll park in the red curb and let their kid get out. Things [like painted curbs and posted signs] are around the school for a reason,” said Slater. “It’s all for the safety of the kids and try to promote the maximum flow of traffic.”

Hurley said that although Palm Crest hadn’t had any traffic or safety problems, the enforcement efforts were appreciated.

“We are always trying to maintain and improve our drop-off and pick-up procedures, as the safety of our children and families is our No. 1 priority,” said Hurley.