The Pandemic and Pedestrians: Safety Tips for the Upcoming School Year
By Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Family & Community Health — Hopkins County
That time of year is here – back-to-school! This year will look a bit different. For those students who will be going back to in-person classes, precautions should be taken to make sure each trip is a safe one. Whether going to school as a pedestrian, bicyclist, bus rider, vehicle passenger or a new driver, follow safety guidelines to avoid injuries.
Children can be very unpredictable. They are easily distracted and can often run into traffic or out from behind parked cars, so drivers need to be vigilant. Although buses are considered one of the safest modes of transportation to school, social distancing may reduce the number of children that can ride on busses, which could increase the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and private vehicle commuters to school each day.
Whether it is a parents’ oldest just starting kindergarten, or they’re taking that first trip to school in his or her own car, parents can play an important role in keeping their children safe. For young children, make sure they know the rules about school bus safety when it comes to boarding and getting off the bus. If transporting children to school, remember that student under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, depending on whether they fit properly in the seat belt.
Teen drivers and their parents should be aware of the Texas Graduated Driver License Law and the restrictions it puts in place, including no cell phone use and no more than one passenger under 21 in the vehicle unless the passenger is related to the driver. Most importantly, buckle up, even on those short trips.
Tips for walking or biking to school:
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available
- Cross at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again before proceeding.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
- Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes off the road.
- Follow traffic signs and signals.
Tips for driving in school zones:
- Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
- Obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember: traffic fines usually double in school zones.
- Drop off and pick up your children in the designated areas, not in the middle of the street.
- Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
- Watch for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles.
Tips for drivers sharing the road with school buses:
- Never tailgate. Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
- Stop for flashing red lights or a stop sign on the school bus, regardless of which directions you’re headed.
- Violations can lead to a fine up to $1,250 for a first offense.
Motorists can make a big difference by remembering to drive with extra caution when driving around school zones. You may very well save a life!
Fall Festival Arts & Crafts Show
The 2020 Fall Festival will take place. Applications are available for the Arts & Crafts Show where home artisans can sell their hand-crafted, hand-made items. Some of the unique things that will be available include: local honey, handmade greeting cards, gift packaging, wreaths, quilts, aprons, baby items, face masks, kitchen items, crocheted scarves, wood carvings, monkey puppets, pencil art work, Christmas decorations, decorated clothing, and more.
The event will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24 in the Sulphur Springs High School. Visitors and vendors will be encouraged to wear face coverings and wash hands frequently. For more information, call 903-885-3443 or e-mail [email protected].
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Community Health Agent
P.O. Box 518
1200-B W. Houston
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483