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Front Page » August 20, 2002 » Local News » Violating school-zone traffic regulations, basic safety p...
Published 4,794 days ago

Violating school-zone traffic regulations, basic safety practices jeopardizes students

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Staff reporter

Price Police Lt. Ed Shook watches as the crossing guard at Castle Heights Elementary escorts a young lady across the street Monday morning. When students return to the classroom, several traffic problems re-emerge, especially in school zones located along routes motorists have travelled all summer. Drivers may tend to forget that numerous school children are present and the 20 miles per hour speed limit is back in force. Shook cautioned motorists to remain alert for any special situations that might arise. For instance, in front of Castle Heights, motorists need to plan routes to the school because U-turns on the street are illegal. City police in all jurisdictions and the Carbon County Sheriff's Office are helping out during the first few days of classes to remind motorists of the responsibilities drivers assume in school zones.

Carbon County's roadways are filled again with students traveling to and from school.

While a significant number of local students are being transported by bus, others simply walk to school.

Regardless of how children are arriving at their destinations, Carbon motorists should approach school zones with caution and students must learn the importance of following safety precautions in order to prevent a serious accident from occurring.

Every year, millions of children walk to school or a bus stop. School-age children are especially vulnerable to auto-pedestrian accident, which result in tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year.

During the 1998-1999 school year, 109 pedestrians ages five through 18 were killed during school transportation hours in the United States.

In 1999, school-age pedestrians accounted for 34 percent of the total pedestrians injured in motor vehicle crashes.

Children who ride the bus are actually at a greater risk of getting injured in a pedestrian accident than students walking to school. Each year, more children are killed as pedestrians near the school bus than as passengers in a bus.

Twenty-three million students nationwide ride a school bus to and from school each day. The bus is one of the most common motor vehicles on the road and is also the safest.

In fact, during normal school transportation hours over the past 10 years, school buses have been 87 times safer than passenger cars, light trucks and vans according to the United States Department of Transportation.

Although the bus is proven to be safe for its passengers, the loading and unloading process is not.

Between 1989 and 1999, an average of 30 school age children were fatally injured each year in school bus related crashes, with three out of four of the fatalities occurring as pedestrians loaded or unloaded the bus. More than half of the traffic-related fatalities involved children ages 5 through 7 years old.

Because getting on and off the bus is the most dangerous part of the ride to school, the loading and unloading area is called the danger zone.

The loading zone area extends 10 feet in front of the bus, 10 feet on each side and behind the school transportation vehicle where children are at greatest risk of not being seen by the driver.

Throughout the year, especially at the start of the school season, children need to be taught how to get on and off a bus safely.

Carbon County parents and adults should help youth learn and follow several standard, common-sense safety practices.

•Students should arrange to get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the school transportation vehicle is scheduled to arrive.

Running to catch the bus is dangerous and can lead to injuries.

•When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps or 10 feet away from the curb, and line up away from the street.

•Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.

•If crossing the street in front of the bus is necessary, children should walk on the sidewalk or along the road to a point at least five giant steps or five feet ahead of the bus before crossing.

Be sure that the bus driver is visible and that they make eye contact with the pedestrian before crossing the street.

Stop at the edge of the bus and look left, right and left before crossing.

•Us the handrails to avoid falls when entering and exiting the bus.

When getting off the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and bookbags and backpacks with straps don't get caught in the handrails or door.

•Never walk behind the bus.

•Walk at least five giant steps away from the side of the bus.

•If something is dropped near the bus, tell the driver. Never try to pick the item up before informing the driver because they may not see that someone is bending down near the vehicle.

Children who do not ride the school bus also need to be aware of the dangers they face by walking to and from school. A safe route should be designated for each child that walks. This means a route with slower traffic, more crosswalks and crossing guards and more sidewalks with wider surfaces and unobstructed views should be found so that the child arrives safely to their destination.

It is important for children to learn traffic safety rules at an early age. Parents should teach their children to follow these steps whenever they cross the street.

•Cross at an intersection or crosswalk if available.

•Stop at the curb, the edge of the road, or the corner before proceeding.

Look left, then right, then left again for traffic in all directions. If a car is spotted, wait until it goes by. then look left, right and left again.

•When no cars are coming, walk, do not run across the road. Keep looking for cars when crossing the street.

•If a car is parked where the crossing path begins, look to make sure there is no driver and that the car is not running. Then go to the edge of the car and look left, right and left to see if cars are coming.

•At intersections with traffic lights, watch for turning cars and ovey all traffic signals. Wait until the walk signal is displayed and the green traffic light, then follow the basic rules for crossing.

Remember that the walk signal and the green light means that it is the pedestrians turn to cross the street, but these signals do not mean it is safe to cross. Always look, then go if no traffic is coming.

•A flashing don't walk signal means that pedestrians should not start crossing the street. However, if the pedestrian is already mid way through the crosswalk when the signal begins to flash, continue walking.

The timing mechanism in the signal device allows the pedestrian time to cross before it changes to a steady don't walk sign. If this steady don't walk signal appears, do not begin crossing the street. Wait until the next walk signal appears.

•Walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If there is no sidewalk and the road is the only place for a pedestrian to travel, be sure to walk facing the traffic so that oncoming vehicles are seen.

•If a route requires a pedestrian to cross through parked traffic, stop and look carefully for vehicles backing up and listen for drivers starting their cars before stepping out from between vehicles.

Don't run between parked cars and buses and don't run across the street or through a parking lot.

Children are less visible to drivers because they are smaller than other pedestrians.

Wearing brightly colored clothing is one way to make it easier for drivers to see young pedestrians during the day.

After dark, children should carry a flashlight or wear special reflective material on their shoes, clothing, or book bags.

It is also important to stop, look, and listen before crossing the road at night.

Parents and motorists have a responsibility to help ensure the safety of child pedestrians. It is important to keep in mind that children are not small adults.

Until children are at least 10 or 11 years old, they don't have the skills to handle traffic. Because they are short, it is difficult for children to see motorists or for motorists to see them.

Because their peripheral vision is approximately one-third narrower than an adult's, children can't see a motorist approaching from the right or left as soon as an adult can.

Children also have difficulty judging a car's speed and distance, and they often think that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them.

It is important for parents or other responsible caregivers to supervise children at all times. They must teach children how to cross the street safely, and they must always set a good example when crossing the street with children.

Motorists also need to observe traffic safety rules around school buses, school zones and crosswalks. Drivers should observe speed limits at all times, but especially around children.

When driving in school zones, near playgrounds, or in neighborhoods where children might be playing, motorists should always expect a child to dart out into the roadway.

When turning left at a green light or making a right turn on red, drivers need to look for pedestrians as well as cars. Pedestrians always have the right of way in these situations.

When following a school bus, motorists must use caution. When a bus stops and its flashers are displayed, motorists must stop and wait for the bus to proceed.

Collisions involving motorists who illegally passed a stopped school bus accounted for almost one-fourth of the pedestrian fatalities in school bus-related crashes between 1989 and 1999.

Motorists must learn the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists that the bus is going to stop to load or unload students.

•Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stoop their vehicles.

•Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again.

In order to protect not only children, but all pedestrians, motorists must observe the following traffic safety rules:

•When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking to the bus stop or walking or bicycling to school.

•When driving in neighborhoods and especially in school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.

•Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops.

•Be alert and ready to stop. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

With the combined efforts of children, parents, teachers and motorists, the 2002-2003 school year will be a safe one for Carbon County students.

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August 20, 2002
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