Back-to-School Traffic Safety Tips You Need to Know

school kids crossing the street. promoting school safety.

For children attending Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the first day of school is Aug.10. MetroWest Public Safety urges everyone to follow these safety tips for sharing the roads with our children, whether they are walking, riding the bus, or riding their bikes to school.

When sharing the roads with young pedestrians:

  • Do not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
  • 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
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Do not honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians

When sharing the roads with school buses:

  • If you are driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal to pass a school bus that stops to load or unload children.
  • Never pass a bus from behind or from either direction if you are 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
  • 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
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks

When sharing the roadways with kids riding bikes:

  • On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special challenges for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave three feet between your car and the cyclist
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
  • If you are turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
  • Watch out for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door

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Written by Nancy Glasgow

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