School is back in session. This means traffic pattern changes – both foot traffic and vehicle traffic. Two highly dangerous times for Alaskan citizens are: 1) August – the month school starts; and 2) May – the month school lets out. Here are some helpful safety tips for you and your family as school begins.
Watch for buses, pedestrians, and bicycles
As either a driver or a pedestrian, you may think an enormous yellow school bus is hard to miss. The key is not just see the bus, but be vigilant when it stops. School buses utilize flashing lights and a protective arm before opening their doors to allow students on and off the bus. Give school buses a wide berth, and remember children may dash toward and away from the bus. It is against the law to ignore a school bus “STOP” sign, or fail to give children entering or exiting the bus the right of way. As school begins, more pedestrians and bicyclists will be on the road. Pedestrians and bicyclists have the right of way in crosswalks. Be especially careful when turning right at a red light.
Obey school zone signage
School zone crosswalks are identified by yellow signs including: “SCHOOL CROSSING” “SCHOOL XING” and pedestrian images on established school pedestrian routes adjacent to schools. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Similarly, Alaska DOT has signs indicating “School Bus Stop Ahead.” This sign is normally used where drivers are not able to see the flashing lights of a school bus 700 feet in advance of the bus stop. While school zones have maximum speed limits, drivers must drive at speeds safe for conditions. This means driving less than the maximum speed when necessary.
Dress children in reflective gear
Be proactive. If your child carries a backpack, purchase one with reflective material. Purchase reflective shoes and jackets. If your child’s backpack, clothing or shoes aren’t reflective, apply reflective tape to your child’s school gear and outerwear. Reflective gear helps drivers see your child.
Donate to your local school
Whether you have school age children or not, please donate to your local school. While picking up a few extra notebooks, boxes of crayons, glue sticks, scissors, or pens, throw in reflective tape. A less fortunate family will appreciate your generosity. For most communities, a few dollars makes a huge difference. Spend a few dollars and save a life.
School is back in session. Please be even more careful while driving and make every effort to ensure your child is as visible to other drivers. Nearly 30 years helping injured Alaskans has taught us a few things about preventing injuries to you and your family. Merdes Law Office, P.C. is here to help if you or a loved one is injured in a car accident… and while we hope you never need us we’re here if you do.