Alastair Dalton: Selfish school-run parkers must be removed

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Being a parent can make you as selfish about road safety as some drivers are about ignoring parking regulations.

Everyone taking their child to school wants to protect them from dangers on the road - but too often only on their own terms.

Those driving their youngsters to classes sometimes put their safety above those of others.

This is reinforced by a typical mindset, which clicks in as soon as they get behind the wheel, of the need to maximise the convenience of their mode of travel by parking as close as possible to the school gates.

When it comes to such motorists, they’ll take any chances they can get away with to make their life easier and journey quicker.

If this means stopping somewhere illegal, it seems to be no matter to the motorist. If they have a child on board, that must be OK, they seem to think.

This could be on zig-zag lines outside a school, or, in another case last week, on a hatched “Keep Clear” area beside an access route reserved for fire engines.

However, don’t think that you, as a fellow parent also taking your children to school, but by bike or on foot, will be able to appeal to their better nature.

More fool you to have the temerity to suggest the error of their ways, the need for safety for all school pupils, or the chance of being caught.

Put such a driver like that on the spot, as some brave and public-spirited parents have been known to do, and they will reel off endless excuses for their actions: I’m just stopping here for a moment; all these other cars have done the same; this is where I always park; I’m not causing an obstruction.

When professional drivers, such as those in vans, taxis and council vehicles, are similarly challenged, they often - eventually - understand and accept the need to move.

But, by and large, not parents. Instead, their reaction is often to challenge the right of others to point out where their actions are wrong, illegal or dangerous.

In the past, I’ve written about a “verdant vigilante” in Glasgow’s west end, on a mission to persuade motorists to switch off their idling engines in one of the city’s pollution hotspots - Byres Road - to reduce pollution.

He had the patience of a saint, knocking on drivers’ windows and gently trying to point out to them the damage they were causing and the how a simple action could make a difference.

Parents faced with sheer selfishness from drivers on the school run won’t have that patience.

It seems they are wasting their time getting unnecessarily stressed trying to use reason and logic to sort out for themselves what shouldn’t have to involve parking wardens or the police.

But that’s the way it will have to be - if only so incidents are reported and collated, problem areas identified and action taken.

The Scottish Government has sent out a major signal by announcing it will double spending on walking and cycling from next year. Ministers have also already said they want to make these the default modes for short journeys by 2030.

That means pedestrians and cyclists should come first in residential areas, especially around schools. Far greater parking enforcement is required to encourage that to happen.

Councils could help by minimising the number of parents allowed to send their children to a primary school that’s not near where they live.

Those travelling under their own steam need the respect of everyone to be the priority.