WAKEFIELD – As summer comes to a close and the school year gets underway, Police Chief Steven Skory, Wakefield School Superintendent Doug Lyons and Northeast Metro Tech Superintendent David DiBarri would like to offer students, parents and motorists several important back-to-school safety tips as students prepare to return to school.
Motorists should expect increased congestion — and should exercise additional caution — when traveling near Wakefield’s schools, and remain mindful of the sudden increase in activity, including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Traveling to and from School
Chief Skory and Superintendents Lyons and DiBarri would like to share the following tips to help facilitate a safe start to the school year, from the National Safety Council (NSC).
Walking to school:
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
- Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
- Stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk. Never cross the street while using an electronic device. Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street.
Riding a bike to school:
- Ride on the right side of the road in the same direction as traffic, and in single file.
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street, and walk bikes across the street.
- Stay alert and avoid distracted riding.
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet and bright-colored clothing.
- Helmets appropriate for bicycling should be worn by everyone – adults and children – on every bike ride regardless of the length of the ride.
Riding the bus to school:
- Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus.
- Teach your children to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb.
- If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus. Your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other.
Safety Tips for Motorists
It is important that motorists be alert while driving, especially in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in residential areas.
- Stay alert and avoid distracted driving.
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection. Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children. If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Drivers who are dropping students off at school should obey school zone speed limits and follow the school’s drop-off procedures.
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or while waiting to make a turn. This forces pedestrians to go around you, which could put them in the path of moving traffic.
- Make eye contact with pedestrians who are crossing the street.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist.
- A common cause of a collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist. Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling – children especially have a tendency to do this.
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, over 40% of U.S. high school students did not always wear a seat belt when riding in a car driven by someone else. Ensure your teen understands that every person in a vehicle should be buckled up, no matter where they are sitting or how long the trip.
- Teens often crash because they are inexperienced. Have regular conversations with your teen about safe driving practices and laws to ensure they understand the rules of the road.
- Set a good example by driving the way you want your teen to drive.
- Learn more about keeping teen drivers safe here.