Focus on traffic safety as school resumes

Published 2:27 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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It’s back-to-school time once again. This time of year, in both the city and county and surrounding school districts, is filled with excitement as kids return to classrooms,
It’s also a time of year that comes with some traffic risks. It’s remarkable how much people can forget about basic safety rules after just a few weeks of school being out – and how anxious drivers can get when they get stuck in slow-moving traffic in school zones in the mornings and afternoons. But we can’t afford to wait for people to re-adjust to the sight of school buses in our neighborhoods and kids walking to and from school. Just one mistake can lead to devastating results.
It’s a good idea to brush up on safety tips for students, parents, and motorists as school is now open. These safety tips apply both in the city and county.
The basic summary is that motorists should watch for extra traffic during the school day, and parents and children should be mindful of safety precautions to ensure kids get to school safely.
The following safety tips for getting to and from school safety were issued by the National Safety Council:
– Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
– Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.
– Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections. Cross where crossing guards are on duty when possible.
– Stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk. Never cross the street while using an electronic device. Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street.
– Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in single file.
– Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street.
– Stay alert and avoid distracted riding.
– Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing.
– Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus.
– Teach your children to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb.
– If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other.
– Stay alert and avoid distracted driving.
– Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure.
– Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street.
Motorists must be alert while driving, especially in school zones and residential neighborhoods. The NSC provides the following tips for motorists:
– Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
– In a school zone, when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection. Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
– Look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
– Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
– If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. The penalty is a stiff fine and a suspended license.
– If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
– The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
– When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 4 feet between your car and the cyclist.
– The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist. Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this.
– Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
Just remember: Our school buses are transporting precious cargo – someone’s children. School bus safety is the responsibility of students, parents, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and the motoring public.
Let’s all work together this school year to safeguard our children from injury.

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