As students prepare to return to school, Whitman Police Chief Scott Benton and Hanson Police Chief Michael Miksch would like to remind residents to follow several important safety tips.
“We encourage parents to have safety conversations with their kids before they go back to school,” Benton said. “This includes how to safely cross the street and how to be careful when getting on and off the bus.”
Whitman-Hanson Regional School District students return to class Wednesday, Aug. 28.
With students often on their phones texting, browsing the internet or playing games, the Whitman and Hanson Police Departments recommend that parents talk to their children about the following safety tips provided by the National Safety Council (NSC) when headed to and from school:
• Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
• Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
• Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
• Cross only at crosswalks.
• Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street and stay alert.
Drivers should be on increased alert when traveling through school zones and should NEVER text and drive. Additionally, the NSC reminds operators to:
• Stop and yield to pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk or intersection.
• Never go around a school bus that has its lights activated and stop sign out.
• Always stop for a crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
• Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
• Do not honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
To ensure that children who travel to school by bus get there safely, the Whitman and Hanson Police Departments advise that students follow these tips from the NSC:
• When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness.
• Line up away from the street as the bus approaches.
• Wait until the bus has stopped completely and the doors open before approaching.
Behavior on the bus:
• If available, always wear your seat belt.
• Don’t put your head, arms or hands out the window.
• Always wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.
Getting off the bus:
• If you have to cross in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver. Make sure the driver can see you too.
• Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing. When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
• If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you.
The return of classes also means that there will be many new teen drivers operating on the roads going to and from school.
According to the NSC, teen crashes occur most often because they are inexperienced. They may misjudge gaps in traffic, the right speed for road conditions and turning safely, among other things.
The Whitman and Hanson Police Departments, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminds parents to set rules before their kids hit the road with “5 to Drive:”
• NO cell phones while driving
• NO extra passengers
• NO speeding
• NO alcohol or drugs
• NO driving or riding without a seat belt
Statistically, half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens, yet many crashes are preventable. Teens who continue to practice driving with their parents after obtaining their license increase their chances of avoiding a crash.
“A major part of driving safely in general is to not be a distracted driver. This is especially important during the school year,” Miksch said. “Drivers need to be able to give their full attention to school zones, buses and crosswalks. Anything that takes away from your attention on the road puts kids in danger.”
Benton and Miksch and the members of the Whitman and Hanson Police Departments would like to wish all students and faculty a fun and safe school year!