In the back-to-school rush, safety is a concern for parents and first responders. Crosswalks are being painted and updated and motorists are asked to pay a bit better attention as the new session begins.
Woodward Public School Resource Officer Lt. Jack Brown of the Woodward Police Department reminds motorists to watch out for crosswalks and school zones as students get back to school this year.
“Watch out for the 9th Street crossing guards coming out,” Brown reminded. “Because a lot of times, they (motorists) will not stop. They’ll continue right on through.”
Brown said that particular crosswalk is one of the biggest problems because of the highway.
“We've already put the information out to our officers to be real diligent on patrolling the school zones and watching the crosswalks, especially that one,” Brown said. “People seem to not really pay attention that well right there. And we do you get complaints from the crossing guard all the time.”
There is also a new school zone on Oklahoma Avenue near 3rd Street this year.
“It actually has flashing light signs and everything like the ones around Mazios,” Brown said. “People would probably need to really watch for that one, too.”
Respecting school buses, which will be operating in the early mornings and in the afternoons is also important.
Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean, according to the American Red Cross. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.
Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. According to the American Red Cross, this includes two and four-lane highways.
“Generally just watch out for all kids, cause there’ll be a lot of kids out walking, especially on the side streets, in our neighborhoods once they get past the crosswalks,” Brown said. “There’ll be a lot of kids riding bicycles and walking, especially around grade schools and middle school, for sure.”
Those students riding a bus should be early and stand away from the curb while waiting at the bus stop. Also stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus, according to the American Red Cross.
“Parents and kids are both eager to get back to normal and return to the classroom as a new school year starts,” said Brittney Rochell, Chief Communications Officer. “But don’t forget to make safety a top priority.”
Parents of younger children, or children going to a new school should walk their children to school the first week or so to ensure they know the route and arrange for them to walk with a friend or classmate, according to Rochell.
Students should be reminded to cross streets at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay within the designated crosswalk, never darting into the street or crossing between parked cars.
Students riding a bicycle should wear a helmet and ride on the right side of the street in the same direction as traffic.
Teen drivers are encouraged to make sure they and all passengers wear a seat-belt. Drivers should also avoid eating, drinking, texting or using the cell phone while driving.
The Red Cross also suggest preparing for emergencies by taking a first aid class and knowing the school’s emergency plain in case of disaster or unforeseen event. Developing a family emergency plan helps everyone know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school.