Back to School Safety for Families & Drivers

Posted by April Reiling on Aug 22, 2013
Tags: BNHS, Community, Public Safety, Schools, Town News

The Back to School flurry has begun with a new school year starting Tuesday, August 27th. A variety of useful Back to School information is available through the Northwest Independent School District’s (NISD) website: www.nisdtx.org/backtoschool.  

NISD will continue to provide busing service for students who live two-plus miles away from campus, which means many children who live within two miles of school will walk to and from school each day. If your child walks/bikes/skateboards to and from school, please emphasize the importance of safety and awareness during their commute.  Likewise, drivers should take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers may be walking and riding bicycles. Please review the following Back-to-School Safety Tips from the National Safety Council:

Transportation Safety

Safety tips for families

Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they take proper safety precautions. Here are some tips to make sure your child safely travels to school.

Walking to school

  • Review your family’s walking safety rules.
  • Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
  • Utilize crosswalks and only cross when instructed by the Crossing Guard.
  • Before you cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming.
  • Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  • Practice walking to school with your child.

Riding a bicycle to school

  • Make sure your child always wears his helmet when leaving the house.
  • Teach your children the rules of the road they need to know to ride their bicycles.
  • Ride on the right side of the road and in a single file.
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.
  • Get off the bicycle and walk when crossing the street

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.
  • Make sure your children stand six feet away from the curb.
  • If your child and you need to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are at least 12 feet ahead of the bus. You always should be able to see the bus driver, and the bus driver always should be able to see you.

Safety Tips for Motorists

The Roundabout
The roundabout has multiple crosswalks and drivers must remain aware of children trying to cross the roundabout intersection.

PLEASE NOTE: Vehicular traffic heading south through the roundabout must yield to motorists in the inside lane trying to turn right on Village Trail from Trophy Lake Drive.

Please review the Roundabout Navigation 101 article for further information regarding how to properly navigate through the roundabout.

Share the road safely with school buses
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. The reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Laws and procedures for sharing the road safely with school buses:

  • All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to
    stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
  • All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.
  • While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.

Share the road safely with child pedestrians

  • All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that are children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.
  • Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.
  • In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
  • Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard.
  • Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.
  • Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.

Share the road safely with child bicyclists

  • On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane, but bicycles can be hard to see. The riders are exposed and easily injured in a collision. Oncoming bicycle traffic is often overlooked and its speed misjudged. Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions.
  • When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do so slowly and leave at least a distance between you and the bicycle of no less than 3 feet. Maintain this clearance until you have safely passed the bicycle.
  • The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of the bicycle.
  • When your vehicle is turning left and there is a bicyclist entering the intersection from the opposite direction, you should wait for the bicyclist to pass before making the turn.
  • If your vehicle is turning right and a bicyclist is approaching on the right, let the bicyclist go through the intersection first before making a right turn. Remember to always use your turn signals.
  • Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.
  • Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
  • Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.
  • Check side mirrors for bicyclists before opening the door. Some communities may fine drivers for collisions caused by opening a vehicle door in the path of a bicyclist.