Offering a little back to school street smarts

It's that time of year again: children are headed back to school. Below are some tips from the California Office of Traffic Safety for parents, as well as drivers on ways to keep kids safe on their trek to and from school. “If at all possible, parents should walk or ride with kids to school before that first day, teaching them the safest routes and their road safety and personal safety rules,” said Christopher J. Murphy, the agency's director.  “Remind your kids how important safety on your streets is to you and them; that they need to be careful every time they leave the house. Drivers, especially those dropping off kids, need to stay focused and on the lookout for children.” Walking tips
  • Always cross at an intersection or crosswalk. Make sure to look both ways for vehicles that could pose a danger before setting out across the street.
  • When the coast is clear, walk across the road while keeping an eye out for oncoming vehicles.
  • When crossing the street at signalized intersections, obey traffic signals and watch for turning cars.
  • If your route has a sidewalk, always use it. If there aren't sidewalks, walk facing traffic so you can see what's coming.
  • Do not run between parked vehicles, across the street or through a parking lot.
  • Refrain from using your cell phone. Your head should be up and eyes scanning for possible hazards, not focused on the technology in your hands.
Cycling tips
  • Always wear your helmet.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Travel single file.
  • Watch out for road hazards, such as gravel, storm drains, pot holes and trash.
  • Obey all traffic laws. That means stopping at stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Always be prepared to stop.
  • Signal your intentions and keep control of your bike. Don't swerve or make sudden turns.
  • Keep an eye out for drivers sitting in parked cars. They may open their door or pull out into the street.
  • Don't wear headphone so you can hear vehicles approaching.
  • Do not use your cell phone. Pay attention to what's going on around you.
Driving tips
  • Keep an eye out for children so excited about going to school, they aren't paying attention to traffic laws or what's going on around them.
  • Remember, the speed limit is 25 mph in in school zones when children are present and near the road.
  • Parents can pose a danger to their own children through distracted and hurried driving after they've dropped their children off. They should remain alert and careful in school driveways and drop off zones.
  • Avoid cell phone calling or texting while driving. Pay attention to what's going on around you and discourage your kids from calling you while you are driving.
School bus tips
  • Parents of children who ride school buses should teach them to stay seated, keep the aisles clear, don't throw objects, not to distract the driver or shout and keep his or her hands and arms inside the bus at all times.
  • When school buses are stopped to pick up or drop off children, and have their red lights flashing, all vehicles in both directions must stop. However, if a school bus stops on a road with a median divide, only the vehicles traveling in the same direction as, and approaching from the rear of, the bus must stop.
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