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Back-to-school Tips, Making Sure Your Kids Arrive Safely

« Back to the August 2008 edition

With less than a week before school starts, ODOT is urging parents to talk with their children about back-to-school safety.

‘Safety is everyone’s responsibility, on the highways and in the school zones,’ said Rosalee Senger, regional traffic safety coordinator for ODOT. ‘Being aware of the extra vehicle and pedestrian traffic that comes with the start of school is the key.’

ODOT offers these common-sense suggestions for making the school year a safe one:

Driver Safety

  • Yield to pedestrians at intersections, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. If a pedestrian is crossing at an intersection, you must stop and wait until the pedestrian has cleared your lane and the next lane before you may proceed.
  • In school zones, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour. Flashing lights may alert you that you are in a school zone, but if there are no flashing lights, the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit is in effect 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. on days when school is in session.
  • Do not pass other cars stopped at a crosswalk or intersection. The drivers may be stopped for pedestrians. Pedestrians may be crossing the street when the light changes.
  • When making a right turn at a red light, look to the right and left for pedestrians and bike riders as well as oncoming traffic.
  • Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus or for school may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Do not pass a school bus with flashing red lights. Yield to buses merging into traffic.
  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school. Walk around the rear of your car before you get in to drive away.

Pedestrian safety

  • Before crossing a street, look ‘left-right-left’ for traffic in all directions. Keep looking for cars as you cross the street. Listen to hear vehicles you may not see.
  • Don’t run out into the street from between parked cars. The cars can hide you from drivers so they can’t see you.
  • 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. Try to make eye contact with the drivers so you’re sure they see you. 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.
  • Avoid routes that include roadway construction. If you must walk in or near a roadway construction zone, follow the pedestrian signs or walk on the opposite sidewalk. If the roadway construction zone doesn’t appear to be safe to walk in, contact the appropriate road jurisdiction.
  • If the school has a crossing guard, be sure to obey her or him.
  • Bicyclist safety

  • Check your route with a parent or other adult. Choose streets with low traffic volumes, slow speeds, few intersections, and bicycle lanes and sidewalks with no roadway construction.
  • If riding or skating on the sidewalk, watch for pedestrians. Ride at a walking speed, and alert pedestrians if you are passing.

School bus safety

  • Arrive at the bus stop early.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, cross at least five giant steps ahead of the bus so you and the bus driver can see each other.
  • Never walk behind the bus or go under the bus.
  • Avoid wearing any clothes or accessories that may get caught in a school bus handrail or door. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that drawstrings be no more than three inches in length at the waist. Parents should caution children about attaching key rings and other items to their backpacks as these too may become caught on the handrail or door.

Clothing tips

  • Buy backpacks and bags with reflectors. They can make a big difference in visibility on overcast fall days.
  • Use 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 reflectors show up better in low-light conditions and increase safety.
  • If you ride a bike or a skateboard to school, wear the proper safety gear, including helmets and pads.
  • Safety seat reminder

    Child passengers weighing over 40 pounds are now required by Oregon law to ride in booster seats until 8 years of age or 4’9′ tall.

« Back to the August 2008 edition