Missouri children are headed back into the classrooms, some by bus, some by car, some by foot and some by bike. The Department of Transportation is asking folks to slow down and look alive.
Leanna DePue is the highway safety director for the State Transportation Department. She says there were no fatalities in school zones last year, and hopes that trend continues.
DePue says in addition to more motorists on the road, the possibility of being distracted increases this time of year.
A fairly new safety concern has arisen … distracted walking. DePue says more kids who walk are distracted by phones, games and Mp3 players than ever before. She’s asking parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of not paying attention to where they’re walking, or wearing earbuds that could keep them from hearing cars.
DePue says teen drivers are particularly at risk — many of them are inexperienced drivers, she says, and are also prone to distractions like cell phones and music. But she says kids aren’t the only ones … parents trying to figure out traffic patterns at school are also distracted, increasing the risk for accidents.
“Be on the lookout for those big yellow school buses as classes begin all across the state in mid-August,” the deparment says.
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway safety offers some “back to school” safe driving reminders to promote driving and pedestrian safety:
– Expect heavy traffic around schools, with cars dropping off students in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. Parents behind the wheel may be distracted.
– Expect students walking and riding bicycles to and from schools or waiting at school bus stops. Notice “School Bus Stop Ahead” signs and be prepared to slow down or stop.
– Expect school buses starting and stopping and traveling slowly each morning and afternoon. Stop when a bus has its red warning lights flashing and stop sign extended.
– Slow down where speed limits are reduced at a school, including where flashing lights are installed.
Parents should make sure students know and follow traffic safety rules. Here are a few tips:
– Use sidewalks where available. If you must walk in the street, walk single file facing traffic and stay close to the edge of the road.
– Cross streets only at intersections. Don’t dart out between cars.
– Walk, don’t run. Look both ways. Assume drivers cannot see you.
– Don’t walk distracted. Focus on traffic. Avoid using cell phones, ear buds and hand-held games.
– Obey signs and signals.
– When getting off a school bus, look both ways before walking in front of the bus into the street in case an approaching car does not stop. “Don’t go back” if you forget something or drop something.
– When crossing the street – in a crosswalk or at a corner – wait until all cars are stopped before stepping out. That means all cars in all lanes in both directions.
– In bad weather, with wet or slick pavement, expect cars to take a longer distance to stop.
– At night, make yourself visible. Wear light colors and reflective strips and use a flashlight.
For more information on pedestrian and bus safety, go to www.saveMOlives.com.