Parents, children and drivers practice back-to-school safety

« Back to the September 2006 edition

Parents, older children and other family members share responsibility to help identify safe routes and teach traffic rules to younger children. The Oregon Department of Transportation offers back-to-school safety tips.

DRIVER SAFETY

  • Follow the posted speed limit, and slow to 20 mph when required in school zones.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the street. Stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has crossed not only your lane but also the adjacent lane. At traffic lights where the driver is turning, the motorist may proceed after a pedestrian is six feet into the next lane.
  • Never pass a vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk. It may be waiting for a pedestrian to cross.
  • In a school zone crosswalk with a crossing guard, wait until the guard has left the roadway.
  • Under Oregon law, a crosswalk exists at any intersection, even if unmarked, unless signs indicate that the crosswalk is closed.
  • When making a turn, look both left and right and in mirrors to make sure a pedestrian or bicyclist is not traveling alongside you into the path of your turn.
  • Do not pass a school bus when its red lights are fl ashing, even if it is on the other side of the street. The only exception is when the bus is on the other side of a physical barrier or median running between opposing lanes of traffic.
  • Use extra care in areas where children may enter the roadway from between parked vehicles or other things that block drivers’ view of the side of the road.

PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

  • Before crossing a street, look left-right-left for traffic in all directions. Keep looking for cars as you cross the street.
  • Don’t run out into the street from between parked cars. The cars can hide you from drivers so they can’t see you until it’s too late to stop.
  • 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 as you cross.
  • When crossing railroad tracks, stop well away from the tracks, look in both directions and listen for an approaching train. Never try to beat a train across the tracks. Watch your step as you cross the tracks so you don’t stumble or fall.

BICYCLIST SAFETY

  • Check your route with a parent or other adult. Choose streets with low traffic volumes, slow speeds and few complex intersections.
  • Make sure your bike is the proper size and is properly maintained.
  • Always wear a helmet that has been fitted correctly.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic, not against traffic.
  • Wear bright colored clothing that will make it easier for drivers to see you. If
    you ride when it’s dark, use lights, reflectors and retro-reflective clothing.
  • Stay alert and ride predictably. Don’t assume motorists can see you. Wait until you are sure they have stopped or yielded before you go.

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

  • Arrive at the bus stop early.
  • Stand at least 10 feet away from the edge of the road.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, cross at least 10 feet ahead of the bus so the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
  • Never walk behind the bus or go under the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, don’t ever pick it up. Instead, tell the bus driver and follow the driver’s directions.
  • Stay in your seat. Keep head, hands and feet inside the bus.
  • Do not yell or scream on board the bus.

CLOTHING TIPS

  • Buy backpacks and bags with reflectors. They may cost a little more, but make a big difference in visibility on overcast fall days.
  • Ask for outerwear with reflectors. A child in a dark jacket can be invisible to drivers in bad weather. Brightly colored coats, umbrellas and hats are more visible to drivers.
  • Shoes with refl ectors show up better in low-light conditions and increase safety. Consider wet and slippery weather when choosing shoes.
  • If you ride a bike or a skateboard to school, wear the proper safety gear, including helmets and pads.

MORE INFORMATION

Schools can learn the training and equipment requirements for crossing guards in the 2006 Guide to School Area Safety on the ODOT Highway Division publications page: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/TRAFFIC/publications.shtml.

Visit the ODOT Transportation Safety Division Web site at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS and find information on programs such as Safe Routes to School, Oregon Youth Traffic Safety Plan, bicyclist safety and pedestrian safety.

Additional information is available at Oregon Bike+Walk to School at www.walknbike.org.

« Back to the September 2006 edition