School run mum

462512911Since we ditched the car – or rather it ditched us – almost a year ago, I have been feeling even more smug than usual as Katy and I stride past stranded cars on our ten-minute walk to school. Yesterday she stopped to wave to her PE teacher through the window of his stationary vintage Triumph with its engine turned off 100 yards from the school gate while he caught up with some paperwork from behind the wheel. The blame for this daily 8.30am gridlock is placed firmly at the sharp elbows of the “school run mum” who is variously described as lazy, frantic, thoughtless and pushy in her unreasonable desire to drive her children (universally described as “little darlings”) to school on time.

This morning’s news of the latest campaign to highlight the dangers of driving in the countryside provided food for thought. The statistics are terrifying. Three people a day are killed on rural roads and we are 11 times more likely to be killed or injured on a country road than on a motorway or city road.

That puts all our frothy indignation about cappuccino-sipping school run mums into perspective. I have never understood why school run mums were so demonised by people who believed that if they would only get off their velour-clad bottoms and walk to school then the roads would become miraculously clear for more deserving motorists, like ambulance drivers and commuters. Why “commuters” are more deserving of a space on the road, or even any different from mothers and children, I can never work out. Both are using a car to get from A to B and both have equal access to buses, trains and feet – so why is it always Mums who are pilloried – especially as a huge proportion of them are only driving because they only have five nano-seconds to get from the school gate to work. Why are they treated as evil road hoggers when they are also “commuters”? School-run mums are actually more environmentally friendly than your average commuter because they tend to car pool with other mothers (if they have any sense). It’s not as if they have the option of setting off at six in the morning like flexi-timers and dropping their children at the school gate at dawn with a packet of Sugar Puffs and an apologetic note so they can get three environmentally friendly buses to work is it? Though I must say that during my ever-more frantic student teaching sessions last year I came perilously close to doing that when dropping Katy off clashed with a 9am class.

Ever wondered why, as today’s news revealed, 60% of all car accidents happen on country roads – not on the far more congested motorways or city roads? I am living (luckily) proof of the deceptive danger of driving a country mile. I learnt to drive in central London and had to negotiate Hyde Park Corner before my driving instructor (who looked like a blonde Magnum (PI not vanilla classic) would put me in for my test. It was horrendous, but I got through it – only to fail my test, which I took in Norfolk because I thought it would be easier, because I reversed into a tree during my three-point turn on an otherwise deserted road.

In all the years since, two of which I spent as a “school run mum”, I had no prangs whatsoever in town – and a corker of one a mile away from my parents’ home one summer evening when I spun off the road because I was driving a tad too fast safe in the knowledge that I had passed the last house before theirs and knew that, as both mum and dad could safely be considered to be enjoying their first G&T of the evening tucked up at home, I wouldn’t meet anything more dangerous on the road than a baby rabbit.

Talking of G&Ts, my Sober October is passing slowly, soberly and not at all in a blur. I am surprising myself.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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