With the start of each new school year it is important for parents and drivers to be aware of children walking to and from school. Whether students walk, bike, skate, ride or drive to school, it takes everyone to ensure they get there safely.
Walking Safety Tips:
- Look for traffic at every driveway and intersection. Be aware of drivers in parked cars that may be getting ready to move.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Wear bright-colored clothes, and carry flashlights or wear reflective gear if it is dark or hard to see.
- Cross the street safely:
- Stop at the curb or edge of the street.
- Look left, right, behind you and in front of you for traffic.
- Wait until no traffic is coming before you begin crossing.
- Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
- Walk, don’t run, ride or bike across the street.
Choose the safest route to school
- Select a walking route with less traffic and intersections.
- Pick places where there are sidewalks or paths separated from traffic. If there are no sidewalks or paths, walk as far from the motor vehicles as possible and, if possible, on the side of the street facing traffic.
- Limit the number of street crossings. When available, cross at a location with an adult school crossing guard.
- Avoid crossing busy or high-speed streets.
At the busier intersections, schools are encouraged to place crossing guards. The County and School District work to ensure that those guards are well-trained.
The following are some tips from Douglas County, when there is a crossing guard:
- Obey what the crossing guard is asking you to do.
- Wait two or three feet behind the curb.
- When invited by crossing guard, always walk. Do not ride bike, run or skateboard.
Douglas County has also worked with schools to mitigate hazards, by streamlining the drop-off and pick-up areas. In other cases, parents who may have driven carefully while dropping off students at school — speed off or drive distractedly as they head off to work, placing other kids in danger.
Here are some back to school driving tips from the National Safety Council:
If you are dropping off
Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all students. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
Sharing the road with young pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they were walking at the time of their death. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- 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.
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.
Sharing the road with school buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
Colorado state laws establish the rights and responsibilities for both pedestrians and drivers within all of Colorado per C.R.S. #42-4-802.
REMEMBER ……. Crossing a street can become a matter of life or death, so plan, observe and don’t take risks. Because our children learn by example, be sure to follow traffic laws and safety tips at all times. Teach your children these rules and then be sure to follow them yourself as a pedestrian and as a driver.
For more information please visit the Douglas County School District – School Safety Zones.