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BPD Monthly E-Tip: School Traffic Safety

In a few short weeks, school day traffic congestion will be back. Whether students walk, bike, drive or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they – and the motorists around them – take proper safety precautions. Please consider the following safety tips.

Walking/Biking/Riding to School: Plan a route to school or the bus stop. Select the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and with intersections that have crossing guards if possible. Always buckle up when riding in a car—even if it’s a short trip! Children under 13 should not sit in the front seat. Be sure your child walks to and from school with a sibling, friend, or neighbor. Remember, there is safety in numbers. If biking, ALWAYS wear a helmet and use proper hand signals to let motorists know what your next move is going to be. Use bike lanes or sidewalks, and always ride in the same direction of traffic. For pedestrians, it is important to remember that you do NOT always have the right of way. Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals. Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk on the road, walk along the shoulder of the roadway, facing traffic. Always walk as far from traffic as possible. Cross at the corner. Cross at crosswalks or intersections wherever possible. This is where drivers expect to see pedestrians. Before crossing the street, pause, look left-right-then left again until no cars are coming. Make eye contact. Never assume drivers see you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you and make sure you are seen. Keep your eyes up, ears open, and be off your phone. Don’t talk, text or listen to music when crossing the street. Be safe. Be seen. Wear bright clothing during the day. At night, wear reflective material or carry a light. This will caution drivers to be careful because they can see someone walking ahead.

Driving Safety Tips: Drivers have a lot to pay attention to, especially in school zones, and there is never an occasion that justifies using a phone while driving. Avoid distractions. Don’t let anything distract you from focusing on the road and those around you. If a school bus is stopped and their stop sign is engaged, you must treat it like a normal stop sign. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to give them space to safely enter and exit the school bus. Many children ride their bike to school. If you’re turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signal. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation. Be alert when driving. Look for pedestrians – expect to see them at corners and marked crossings. Stop for them when they cross the street. Slow down. The faster you’re going, the longer it takes to stop for pedestrians and other roadway hazards. Slow down when you’re in an area where pedestrians are likely to be, such as school zones. Never pass a car stopped for pedestrians – it’s against the law, and it’s highly dangerous for those crossing the street. Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see. Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can walk into your path. We’re all busy, but by slowing down and paying close attention to our surroundings, we can all increase our odds of arriving at our various destinations safely.

Check out our pedestrian safety public service announcement on YouTube: