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With July winding down, the school bells will be ringing before we know it. Now is the perfect time to start planning for back to school season. We’ll be sharing safety and community-building tips over the next few weeks that you can easily repurpose in your newsletter or digital bulletin.

We’re kicking this series off with one of the most important topics: road safety while school is in session. While you can’t walk every single student to school, you can share tips with members of your community to help them become aware of potential hazards and to keep an eye out for students.

Reduce Speeds

Pedestrians are the largest proportion of recorded traffic fatalities over the past 25 years according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The best way to reduce pedestrian fatalities is by reducing speed. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph has a 5% chance of fatality, but this increases to 45% at 30 mph, and 85% at 40 mph. That’s why the speed limit in school zones is around 15-25 mph depending on the state. Yes, it’s slow, but it’s in place to save lives.

Share School Hours

It’s a good idea to share the hours of local elementary, middle, and high schools with your residents at the start of school season. The morning rush and afternoon pickup times can be crazy, but they’re typically short lived. Instead of speeding through a school zone or the neighborhood, remind residents to leave for work or errands a couple minutes earlier when school is in session.

Share Bus Stop Safety Tips

According to the National Safety Council, the majority of children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are under seven years old  and are hit either by the bus or a motorist passing a stopped bus. These deaths are totally preventable when drivers follow the rules of the road. Be sure to share the following rules with your residents, to ensure bus riders get to and from school safely:

  • If the stop sign is extended and the yellow or red lights are flashing, all traffic must stop
  • Never pass a bus from behind, and if you’re on the opposite side of the road, you must still stop when the bus is unloading or loading children
  • If stopping behind a bus, give the bus room as the area 10 feet around the bus is the most dangerous for children
  • Even when the stop arm isn’t extended and the lights are no longer flashing, proceed with caution as you never know when a child who’s running late might dart across the street

Avoid Distractions

Children are far more likely than adults to dart into the street or make a risky crossing, so it’s vital that your residents remain alert for kids, follow the speed limit, and avoid distractions like talking or texting while in the neighborhood.

Be Extra Cautious at Crosswalks and Intersections

Remind parents to teach their kids to always cross the street at crosswalks and stop signs and avoid jay walking. That means there needs to be extra caution among drivers at these points throughout the community. When stopping at a crosswalk or light, remind residents to stop before the crosswalk, not in it. That way pedestrians won't be forced to walk into the path of moving traffic to make their way around stopped vehicles. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth sharing: if a school resource officer or crossing guard holds up a stop sign, drivers must stop, no questions.

Keep an Eye Out for Bikes

Many children get to school via bikes and scooters. While they hopefully received an overview on the rules of the road from their parents, it’s important to not assume they know to stop at stop signs. Be extra cautious when passing children on bikes or approaching them at an intersection. Also, keep an eye out when making turns, as the majority of bike and auto crashes occur when a vehicle is turning.

Safe residents are happy residents. Looking for additional ways to keep your residents happy? Download our free six-step guide!