Back to School Safety Reminders
With the start of the school year quickly approaching, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding drivers to exercise extra caution as students head back to school Tuesday. "Safety is our top priority. With schools back in session in Montgomery County and across the DMV, drivers should allow extra time, slow down, hang up and pay attention.”
- Be alert and slow down. Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.
- Stop for buses. Flashing yellow lights mean slow down – NOT speed up – and be prepared to stop. Do not attempt to pass or overtake a school bus from behind when yellow lights are flashing. The yellow lights should alert you that flashing red lights will be coming on, just as if you’re at a traffic signal.
- When the lights are flashing – don’t be passing! Red flashing lights mean stop and wait at least 20 feet before reaching a stopped school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights are deactivated and stop flashing, the extended arm is returned and the bus begins moving. Passing a school bus when the red lights are flashing is not only illegal it is also one of the biggest threats to student safety.
- In traffic, avoid “cutting” in front of a bus. Many bus drivers leave a safe following distance between the bus and the vehicle ahead of them to ensure a safer environment for passengers. Even if your car can fit into the space, always avoid cutting in front of a bus or transit vehicle.
- Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools
- Passengers should always wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.
- Talk to your teen. Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at www.teendriving.AAA.com.
Reminders for Parents:
- Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision. Walk the route with your child beforehand.
- Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.
Parent’s often ask “When is my child old enough to stay home alone?” Decisions involving child safety go far beyond the law and require careful, realistic evaluations of each individual child’s readiness. Parents need to carefully consider the pros and cons of having a child stay home alone before/after school.
Be familiar with laws and child protective policies and, because children mature at different rates, your decision should not be based on age alone. Children should master important safety skills before staying home alone. Be sure to make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a designated "meeting place" outside where everyone will meet if the smoke alarm sounds and ensure they know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. DYK that unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires? Be sure to have plenty of after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking. For more information, please visit www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe and have a safe school year!
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Roy Kelley, Associate Broker
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