KNIGHTSEN -- The school here has a sizable safety problem -- lots of cars and plenty of youngsters but not enough space.

Vehicles routinely clog the roads that adjoin Knightsen School on two sides as parents descend on the campus to drop off and pick up children, creating the potential for accidents as students mingle with traffic.

And although the Knightsen School District has made a number of changes over the past four years to reduce the risks, school officials say a panacea is financially out of reach.

And so they took another tactic last week, convening a meeting to remind parents of the dangers and exhorting them to observe the rules of the road.

About three dozen people turned out for the presentation, which state Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and a California Highway Patrol officer also attended.

Superintendent Theresa Estrada noted that because more than half of the district's 495 students live outside its boundaries, many parents are driving their children to and from school.

In an effort to make those 10 to 15 minutes when there's a crush of cars safer, Knightsen School District had the curb along the front of the school painted to extend both the green and red segments. By creating more short-term parking space for parents, the district reduced the number of drivers who were double-parking and allowing their youngsters to walk into the street.


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And by lengthening the no-parking zone, the district made it easier for drivers to see the crosswalk from farther away, Estrada said.

The district also eliminated one of its two crosswalks on Delta Road to funnel all students to one spot, she said, and it hired a part-time crossing guard to shepherd them across the street in the afternoon.

In addition, it trimmed an overgrown hedge and bush that were obscuring drivers' view of the crosswalk and had the county install larger signs alerting them to the pedestrian right of way.

A semicircular turnout on Eden Plains Road that parents were using has been off-limits since November because children were weaving among the parked cars, Estrada said.

And starting March 31, the district will be piloting another change: Parents no longer will be able to use the parking lot just east of the school office because drivers trying to get in and out of it were causing backups on Delta Road, she said.

None of these measures completely eradicate the congestion, however, Frazier said.

"We don't have an opportunity to take away houses (to make room for cars) or add roads," he said.

It's up to parents to create the element of safety that the school can't by following the rules and showing other drivers courtesy, CHP Officer John Franzen said.

Those behind the wheel should realize that a child might dart into traffic, Franzen said, noting that parents trying to avoid the gridlock often will park some distance from the school and wave their children over.

He also underscored the importance of looking over one's shoulder when backing up instead of relying on a mirror as well as double- and triple-checking in both directions before making a turn.

As for distracted driving, people might as well be wearing a blindfold during the seconds they take their eyes off the road to glance at a cell phone or use the mirror to apply makeup, Franzen said.

"Nobody wants to kill a child," he said. "From an emotional and financial standpoint, you'd be devastated."

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Reach her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.