School playgrounds, halls and buses – most of which have been dormant the past three months – will return to life this week as children trek back to class. That means more children walking and riding bicycles to school, boarding school buses and riding in private vehicles. The Moscow Police Department wants to ensure those trips to and from school are as safe and incident-free as possible.
Traffic around schools increases exponentially when classes resume, and that brings the potential for conflict between vehicles and young children. Motorists and children need to be especially vigilant and remain focused on safe travel.
- Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available.
- Before you step off the curb to cross the street, stop, look to your left, then to your right and again to the left to see if cars are coming.
- If a car approaches, make eye contact with the driver to ensure that he or she sees you.
- Walk; don't run. This gives time for drivers to see you before you enter the roadway. Running also makes you more likely to fall in the street.
- Obey all crossing guards.
- Never accept a ride unless your parents have specifically given permission, and NEVER accept a ride from a stranger.
- Always wear your helmet when riding a bicycle.
- Ride on the sidewalk or the right side of the street in a single file line in the same direction as other vehicles and come to a complete stop before crossing streets.
- Exercise due care and caution to those walking on the sidewalk when riding a bike, provide a respectful audible warning when passing pedestrians.
- If you ride in a group, always ride single-file, not with another bike rider next to you.
- Focus on riding rather than on your friends if you are riding as part of a group.
- Practice makes you more skilled at riding your bicycle. The more skilled you are at riding, the less likely you will be to have an accident.
- Motorists should be keenly aware of the risks that accompany the reopening of schools as more children use sidewalks and bicycle paths. Anticipate spontaneous movement from children who sometimes are distracted and unaware of their surroundings.
- Obey the 15 mph posted school zone speed limit around our schools when children are present. It is reduced specifically for the safety of our children.
- If dropping off children, deliver them as close to school as possible and follow established traffic patterns. Don't leave until children are safely on the school grounds.
- Avoid distractions, especially cell phone use, when transporting children. Texting is prohibited while operating a vehicle.
- Buses sometimes stop in travel lanes, requiring approaching vehicles to slow or stop.
- Drivers must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped to pick up or deliver school children if the bus displays flashing red signals. Flashing yellow lights indicate the bus is slowing to stop. Drivers should consider the flashing yellow school bus lights as they would a solid yellow traffic signal.
- The most dangerous area for children loading or leaving a school bus is within 10 feet. Allow enough room around the bus for children to walk unhindered.
- Never pass a stopped school bus on the right.
- On a two-lane road, following and oncoming traffic must stop and remain stopped as long as the school bus displays flashing red lights and/or the stop arm on the driver's side of the bus is extended.
- Do not honk your horn, race your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys around schools slowly and carefully.
- Be cognizant of limited sight obstructions created by parked vehicles or other landscape feature and slow according.
- The morning or evening sun can blind vision and delay drivers from seeing children in crosswalks or walking along the roadway; do not proceed unless you can do it safely.
- Several local schools use crossing guards at intersections. Motorists are required to slow or stop as the guards dictate.
Drivers who speed through school zone speeds pay enhanced fines as a result of legislation passed in 2008. The fine for any school-zone speeding violations is $156.50.
Please help us protect our children and keep our roadways safe. Use all the safety equipment specifically made for you or your child's transportation choice, report traffic violations by calling 882-COPS (2677), and most of all be patient of others, timely by planning ahead, and responsive to the rules of the road.