Haifa PTA Tells Moms: Get Your Cars Off Crosswalks

There is a familiar scene for every parent, teacher or anyone else living near a school. It's the daily ritual of the morning hours, between 7:30 and 8:00 A.M., when parents drop their children off - about three minutes for each car - blocking the road and forcing pupils to zig-zag through the vehicles to the school gates.

The scene grows really bad on one particular single, narrow road in Haifa's Carmel quarter, where each morning 530 pupils pass through the gates of Ahuza elementary school.

Now a decision has been made to put an end to the nightmare. Starting this week, an experimental project went into operation. Four or five volunteer parents wait for the vehicles to arrive and help the children out of the cars without the parent/driver having to get out of the vehicle.

"It is enough for a single car to stop and take three minutes to move and the entire street is blocked," says attorney Ronen Haliva, father of three pupils at the school and one of the initiators the project. "It is dangerous - a car can slip backward when a pupil is crossing, and there is the honking and the nerves and the shouting. So we decided we needed to solve this problem," said Haliva.

The Parents-Teachers Association turned to the Haifa municipality for help with signs bearing the slogan "Don't leave your car" and asked the police to give a briefing to the volunteer parents, and to go as far giving the volunteers official recognition so they can be insured for the possibility of their being injured by a car. Teachers distributed fliers to school's pupils, and its principal, Shoshi Idan, told them during morning roll call how they, too, can contribute to the project's success - for example, by sitting in the back of the family car and having their backpacks ready, and not in the trunk, thus saving time.

Eight volunteers arrived yesterday morning. They indicated to the drivers to stop on the left of the road. "Good morning, sweetheart," they welcomed the children. The volunteers helped the children out of cars and carried their bags, helping them put the bags onto their backs and led them to the school gate.

A matter of seconds later, the next car is ready to drop off its precious cargo.

In fact, the project of indoctrinating the parents was so effective that attempts by Haaretz to ask for parental impressions of the experiment met with failure; the parents were eager to drive off and avoid causing a traffic jam.

Attorney Haliva, overseeing the operation, moved from one end of the road to the next, urging the bus driver who had stopped in the middle of the street to move on and avoid blocking traffic. "We need volunteers. Go sign up at the secretary's office," he shouted at some of the parents.