Drive cautiously as kids return to school
Springfield schools will be back in session next week and our streets will be bustling with morning and evening activity again. As children head back to school – the City of Springfield, Springfield Public Schools, and the Springfield Police Department would like to remind community members to use extra caution when driving, especially near schools.
Neighborhoods around schools will see a dramatic increase in people walking, biking, and driving. Drive safe and avoid distractions like cell phones and loud music, which can take your attention away from the road and decrease reaction time.
The following are some tips to make the morning and evening commute safer and smoother for everyone:
- Budget extra time and be patient with delays. Exercise patience as families and children get used to the back-to-school commute. It’s a good idea to leave a little earlier than normal and prepare for school-area delays.
- Watch out for children walking and biking to school. Children walking to school may not be aware of their surroundings. Drive defensively and be prepared to stop quickly.
- Know and follow the crosswalk law. Did you know that every intersection is legally a crosswalk—even if there are no white lines marked? People driving must yield to people walking in any crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked. Come to a complete stop, and remain stopped, until the person walking has cleared both lanes.
- Obey traffic patrol members (crossing guards)—it’s the law. Crossing guards are in place to assist children with crossing the road in a safe manner. People driving are required by law to stop, and remained stopped, when a crossing guard indicates that children have entered, or are about to enter, a crosswalk.
- Stop for school buses. People driving must stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing, even if it is on the other side of the street (unless there is a median or barrier dividing the opposing lanes of traffic).
- Drive the speed limit and watch for school zones. The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph statewide. School speed zones are signed either “7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days” or as zones with actuated flashing lights and warning signs.
- Plan a safe and fun walk, bike, or skate to school:
- Map a safe route to school. Select lower-traffic streets for your child’s walk or ride to school when possible (see SRTS resources below).
- When walking cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks, not mid-block. If there is a signal, wait for the walk signal or green light. Before crossing, make eye contact with people driving to ensure they see you.
- When biking, know and follow the rules of the road. Under most circumstances, people biking must obey the same rules of the road as people driving. Always bike in the same direction as traffic and ride in the bike lane or as far to the right as is safe.
- When riding the bus always cross the street in front of the bus, not behind it.
For additional information to help you prepare for the upcoming school year commute, visit Springfield Safe Routes to School (SRTS) at eugenespringfieldsrts.org.