School’s in session, drive carefully

Kids are heading back to school and motorists should be alert, slow down and obey all traffic rules in the vicinity of campuses. Starting Wednesday and lasting for about two weeks, the Scotts Valley Police Department will have every available officer on school patrol citywide in the mornings and afternoons. “We’ll be enforcing traffic laws and giving warnings about helmet use, bicycle safety, vehicle speed and such,” said Lt. John Hohmann of “Project S.P.E.E.D.,” or School Enforcement and Education Detail. School starts Wednesday for Santa Cruz City Schools, Scotts Valley Unified, Soquel Union Elementary, Live Oak, Mountain School and Pacific School. Thursday is the first day of classes in Bonny Doon. Meanwhile, students in San Lorenzo Valley Unified and Happy Valley schools hit the books Tuesday, and the Pajaro Valley Unified School District started earlier this month. Below is a list of tips for drivers who travel near schools, from AAA of Northern California:
  • Slow down so you’ll be able to stop quickly for dangers presented by increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs at all times.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions because looking away from the road for a couple seconds doubles the chance of getting into a crash.
  • Scan the area between parked vehicles, as children can quickly dart out from between them or other objects.
  • Keep a lookout for clues that children are nearby, such as crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
  • Always stop for school buses with red flashing lights and extended stop arm.
  • Allow yourself extra travel time to get around school-related congestion.
  • Consider changing your travel route to avoid school-zone traffic and increased road hazards.
  • Use extra caution in bad weather. Rain, fog and other inclement weather can reduce visibility for both motorists and children, as well as impede a vehicle’s stopping ability.
  • Turn on headlights or daytime running lights during the day to make you more easily seen by others on the road. Remember to turn them off when you reach your destination to preserve your battery life.
By the way, these rules not only apply for grade schools, they are good guidelines to follow at campuses of higher education, as well. Classes at Cabrillo begin Aug. 31 and UC Santa Cruz starts Sept. 24. Bethany University’s students returned to campus Monday. For more information, visit www.aaa.com/childsafety.
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