With school starting, make this year a safe experience for all

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Across the Miami Valley, area schools are beginning a new academic year. It is imperative that vehicle operators pay undivided attention to their surroundings.

Students waking to and from school or the bus stop may not have pedestrian safety foremost in their minds. Remember, children might not be wearing clothing that lends itself to a high degree of visibility, and they most likely don’t have a wealth of risk-avoidance experience to rely upon. Also, it’s often difficult for them to determine distances and vehicle speeds, causing them to misjudge when it is safe to cross the street.

We must offset the potential for tragedy by exercising extreme caution at all times, especially when in proximity to schools or bus stops. School zone speed limits must be strictly adhered to.

It is of equal importance to make sure children understand their role in ensuring their own safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the following guidance:

Pedestrian tips for children

Young children often cannot judge the speed, distance and size of oncoming vehicles. Teach them it’s best to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass, and then wait for a new green light or WALK signal.

The green light or WALK signal means children should stop at the curb or edge of the road, look both ways for oncoming traffic and then — if it’s safe — cross the street. Having the WALK signal or green light does not guarantee cars will stop.

Pedestrians must always look for oncoming traffic, even when they have the right of way. Remember to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.

Always stop at the curb and look for cars in all directions before entering the road. When looking left-right-left, make sure to watch for turning vehicles, too.

Before crossing the street, children may want to wait for a “fresh green light.” This means they wait for the next WALK signal if the DON’T WALK sign is flashing. Doing this gives them the most time to cross.

If children are in the middle of a street and the DON’T WALK signal flashes, they shouldn’t stop or return to the curb or edge of the road. They should continue walking at their maximum comfortable pace until they reach the other side. Teach them not to run; they might fall.

And remember — children crossing the street should be accompanied by an adult whenever possible.

Do your part to make this school year a safe, rewarding experience for all.