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Put Safety On Your Back-to-School To Do List
The following is an Oregon Department of Transportation news release
Pencils, crayons, notebooks and backpacks are important things to include in a back-to-school list, but there’s one more thing that Oregon families should add to their lists – safety.
Now is the perfect time to plan for getting to and from school safely. Whether your children walk, bike, ride the bus, or ride in a car, a little planning and preparation can go a long way towards keeping children safe. ODOT offers these tips for young people and their parents/caregivers:
Pedestrian safety
  • Before crossing a street, look “left-right-left” for traffic in all directions. Keep looking for cars and bicycles as you cross the street. Remember, you can’t hear some cars, so keep looking!
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk close to the edge of the road and out of the way of traffic. Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
  • Don’t run out into the street from between parked cars. The cars can hide you from drivers so they can’t see you.
  • Watch out for cars and trucks at every driveway and intersection on your walk to school. And look for drivers in parked cars, who may be getting ready to move and don’t see you.
  • Wait for a walk signal and a green light to tell you it’s your turn to cross the street. Look before you go to make sure drivers see you and have yielded or stopped. Continue looking for cars and bicycles as you cross.
  • Be visible. Why not buy school supplies and clothes that sport retro reflective material, to make those dark fall days safer when the time comes?
  • Walking with friends provides safety in numbers. There might even be a Walking School Bus you can join on your route to school.
Bicyclist safety
  • Check your route with a parent or other adult. Choose streets with low traffic volumes, slow speeds, few intersections, and bicycle lanes and sidewalks with no roadway construction.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic, not against traffic.
  • If riding or skating on the sidewalk, watch for pedestrians. Ride at a walking speed and alert pedestrians if you are passing with a bike bell or vocally.
  • At intersections, stop at the curb like a pedestrian and look for cars before crossing (left-right-left) — walk your bike across the street.
  • Always wear your helmet. Make sure to adjust the helmet so that it fits securely. As children grow, their helmets will need to be checked and adjusted regularly.
  • Make yourself more visible to drivers by wearing bright colors or adding reflective safety tape to your backpack or bike frame.
  • Stay alert and ride predictably. Don’t assume motorists can see you.
School bus safety
  • Arrive at the bus stop early.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, cross at least five giant steps ahead of the bus so you and the bus driver can see each other.
  • Never walk behind the bus or go under the bus.
  • Avoid wearing any clothes or accessories that may get caught in a school bus handrail or door. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that drawstrings be no more than three inches in length at the waist. Parents should caution children about attaching key rings and other items to their backpacks as these, too, may become caught on the handrail or door.
Safety seat reminder
  • Oregon law requires child passengers weighing over 40 pounds to ride in booster seats until 8 years of age or 4'9" tall.
  • For children who are physically beyond the safety seat, remember that all passengers must buckle up for safety.
No matter if you have children in school or not, safety is everyone’s responsibility. Motorists must pay attention to the task at hand, and that means slowing down in school zones, and watching for children and bicyclists. Younger children aren’t able to judge speed and distance as well as adults can, so it’s the responsibility of drivers to be alert. ODOT offers tips for drivers:
  • Plan ahead. Give yourself a bit more time to navigate through school zones. Be prepared for school buses with flashing lights and lines of parents dropping off and picking up children.
  • Yield to pedestrians at intersections, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. If a pedestrian is crossing at an intersection, you must stop and wait until the pedestrian has cleared your lane and the next lane before you may proceed.
  • Yield to school buses. Don’t pass buses with flashing red lights.
  • In school zones, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour. Flashing lights may alert you that you are in a school zone but if there are no flashing lights, the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit is in effect 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. on days when school is in session.
  • Do not pass other cars stopped at a crosswalk or intersection. The drivers may be stopped for pedestrians.
  • When making a right turn at a red light, look to the right and left for pedestrians and bike riders as well as oncoming traffic. And if you drive a “quiet” car, remember, they can’t hear you coming!
  • Where there are no sidewalks, be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists who might be walking or riding along side the road, especially in neighborhoods near schools.
  • Young drivers: remember the limitations on the number of young people you can have in the car with you (varies depending on where you are in the Graduated Driver Licensing program).