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Back to School Safety Tips

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With the new school year upon us, there will be significantly more traffic in and around school areas. Pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and cars all contribute to school zone congestion.

Motorists must exercise increased awareness in and around a school zone. When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch for children traveling to school. Children are unpredictable in their actions, and it is YOUR responsibility to anticipate and prepare to react to what they do. There are also many parked cars near schools and even adults are hard for motorists to see when they walk between cars. Potential hazards are much easier to see and react to when driving at or below the school zone speed limit of 20 mph. Slow down, stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street, and look for children who may run into the street.

In addition, children do not always follow the rules of the road. Often they enter the street from between two cars, attempt to "run" red lights with their bikes through intersections, and skateboard or walk into traffic without checking. Some parents cross the street wherever they park, instead of walking to the corner.

Special attention must also be paid to buses displaying flashing red lights when on an undivided two-lane roadway. In these instances, motorists are required to stop and wait until the flashing red lights are turned off before passing a bus.

Here are some simple hints to make going to school safer for all involved:

Drivers:

  • BE ALERT!
  • Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street and not be looking for other cars.
  • Don't speed.
  • Watch for children playing and gathering near school bus stops.
  • Don't double park.
  • Don't block intersections or driveways if you park your vehicle.
  • Don't make U-turns.
  • Don't allow children to be unbuckled when transporting them.
  • Learn the flashing light system that school bus drivers use to alert you that they are stopping.
  • Yellow flashing lights – the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights – the bus is stopped and an arm extends to allow for children to board or exit the bus. Motorists must stop at least ten feet from the front or rear of the school bus and not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by a school bus driver to proceed.

Pedestrians and Cyclists:

  • Always watch for other traffic around you, and be courteous towards all road users.
  • Obey all traffic control signs and signals.
  • Ride in a predictable manner, on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic
  • Walk facing traffic.
  • Wear bright colored clothing and/or retro-reflective material to increase visibility.
  • Look in all directions to ensure safety before entering or crossing a roadway.

For Bus Riders:

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  • Prepare a route to the bus stop. This will help children learn the most safe and efficient way to reach the bus stop without getting lost or the possibility of arriving late.
  • Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the edge of the road.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it is ok to board the bus.
  • When exiting the bus, ensure that no clothing or drawstrings get caught in the door or on the handrail.
  • NEVER walk behind a bus.
  • If the child has to cross the street in front of the bus, instruct him/her to walk on the sidewalk or along the roadway edge to a point at least six giant steps away from the front of the bus and await a visual signal from the driver that it is ok to cross the street.
  • Never bend over while standing in front of a bus. The driver might not see you.

Helpful tips to share with children about traveling to/from school:

  • Walk with a friend.
  • Don't jaywalk. Cross streets at the corner.
  • Stop, look, and listen carefully before crossing.
  • Use crosswalks.
  • Cross with the green/walk light.
  • Walk across the Street, don't run.
  • Cross with crossing guards (if available).
  • Do not ride your bike across a street; get off the bike and walk it across the street.
  • Wear a helmet when on a bike.