Stepping up patrols to enforce school zones

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — As summer comes to an end, the Lafayette community will be observing a timeless tradition — the first day of school. Unfortunately, the start of school is also a time when children are at an increased risk of transportation-related injures.

The first day of school begins Aug. 12 for most students in the Lafayette area. But as teachers welcome their new students, the Lafayette Police Department wishes to remind motorists that all school zones within the City of Lafayette are 20 miles per hour.

School zone times are from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and again from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In an effort to ensure the safety of students, police officers will be conducting extra patrols within school zones to enforce the 20 mph speed limit.

During the school year, children are at an increased risk of transportation-related injuries from pedestrian, bicycle, school bus and motor vehicle crashes. The increase is because there are many more children on the road each morning and afternoon and many drivers’ patterns change. Also as daylight hours get shorter, it makes it difficult to see young ones on the road.

State law requires motorists to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children. Watch for school buses with their stop arm extended and red lights flashing, which means STOP, not proceed with caution.

It’s time for everyone to brush up on traffic laws to ensure children are safe on their way to and from school. The following tips can help make this school year a safe and happy one for the News 18 community.

Tips for Motorists:

  • Always stop for a school bus that has stopped to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm tell you the school bus is stopped to load or unload children. State Law requires you to stop.
  • State law applies to all roadways except those that are divided by a physical barrier or median. On a divided roadway, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop.
  • Be alert and ready to stop. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops. Watch for children arriving late for the bus, who may dart into the street without looking for traffic. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or biking to school.
  • When driving in neighborhoods or school zones, watch for young people who may be in a hurry to get to school and may not be thinking about getting there safely.

Tips for Students who Ride the Bus:

  • Have your children put everything they carry into a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
  • Attach a piece of high visibility fluorescent or reflective material to their clothing or backpack.
  • Make sure they leave home on time so that they can walk to the bus stop and arrive before the bus is due. Running can be dangerous.
  • Go to the bus stop with a young child and have older children walk in groups. There’s safety in numbers because groups are easier for drivers to see.
  • If your child must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.
  • Don’t let your child play running games or push or shove at the bus stop.
  • Make sure your child stands at least 6 feet (3 giant steps) from the road while waiting for the bus.
  • If children must cross the street to the bus, remind them to wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • Tell your child if they drop something near the bus they should never pick it up, instead, they should tell the bus driver and follow the driver’s directions. Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus, other drivers in a hurry sometimes try to sneak by buses on the right.
  • Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are exiting.

Tips for Good Bus Riders:

  • Talk quietly.
  • Be courteous to the bus driver and follow the driver’s directions.
  • Keep the aisles clear.
  • Stay seated for the entire bus ride.

Tips for Parents:

  • Help your children learn and practice the safety rules for walking, bicycling, or riding in a passenger car, school bus or transit bus.
  • Supervise young children as they are walking or biking to school or as they wait at the school bus stop.
  • Be a good role model, especially when you are with your kids. Always buckle up in the car, always wear a helmet when biking and always follow pedestrian safety rules.
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