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School's back; parents and cops rejoice

School's back and parents everywhere are celebrating.

If you get caught behind one of these you're going to be late. (BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM)

Monday I saw a couple of mothers high-fiving at a grocery store and figured they'd run across one heck of a coupon.

Nope, they were simply happy to reclaim their "kids are in school" lifestyles.

As a child, I looked forward to the school year. I knew the time was getting close when mom drove us to a town with a mall. I'd get a couple pairs of Wranglers, a few shirts and a new pair of sneakers, which I wore to everything except funerals.

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The complexity of life, I have learned, is directly tied to the number of shoes in one's closet.

We lived a "far piece" out in the country and sometimes the school bus would get stuck on sandy roads. There's something about being almost tipped over in a ditch that makes one appreciate seat belts.

Kids that could walk to school, a young me theorized, were living the dream.

Old me has a different view on this subject.

The downside of school for adults who aren't parents, as any commuter will unhappily tell you, is traffic.

Living across the street from a school means pulling out of my neighborhood takes five minutes instead of one. If I get caught behind a school bus it takes 10.

I've been driving to work in Atlanta for almost 20 years, so I'm something of an expert on traffic jams, but journalists as professional as myself almost never quote themselves.

"There is no question that traffic gets a lot worse when school is back in session. We’ve seen it the last couple of days. Unfortunately, it is going to get a lot worse after Labor Day," says WSB-TV traffic guru Mark Arum.

Thanks, Mark.

Police, like parents, are probably happier when school is in session. Policemen parents are doing cartwheels.

You may have heard that crime rates peak during the summer, when some teens crack locks instead of books.

Is it true? Can we blame young people?

Crime of almost every type increases during summer months, according to a study released in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Justice . Only one type of crime increases during fall months -- simple assaults (aka fights). Why? The DOJ says "Simple assault victimization rates were higher among youth ages 12 to 17 than among adults age 18 and older. Simple assault rates among youth were lowest during the summer when the school year ended and highest in the fall when the school year began."

But it's not just kids.

Many experts say hot weather increases crime because people -- adults included -- are out and about and interacting with each other more.

On the flip side of the thermometer, fewer crimes are committed when it is cold. When it snows in Atlanta, crime, like traffic, is at a standstill.

During Atlanta's 2012 ice storm, Curtis Davenport of the Atlanta Police Department said the city saw its lowest crime rates of the year. "It just makes common sense," said Davenport. "More people out - more crime, less people out - less crime."

A cold snap sounds pretty good right now.


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