Newton Safe Routes to School reminds families that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility. All of our schools have high traffic volume in the morning and most children are pedestrians for part of their route to school, whether they walk from home, walk over from a nearby street (Park & Walk maps), walk to the bus stop, or walk from the Blue Zone.
The following guidelines are adapted from the National Safety Council. However your children get to school, put your phone down please and pay attention. #ShareTheRoad.
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard in a crosswalk or intersection.
- Sometimes young children need more time to cross the intersection than the light allows.
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Do not pull into driveways to turn around, especially near schools. You may not see a child on the sidewalk approaching on bike or on foot.
- Be extra cautious when backing up.
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas. School Zone speed limits are 20 mph.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
Sharing the Road with School Buses
- If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the lights start flashing.
- It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist.
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass.
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals.
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this.
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
- Check side mirrors before opening any door.
Reminders for Pedestrians
- Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk; if no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
- Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Cross streets at crosswalks.
- If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles and wait until they wave you through.
- Stay alert – avoid cell phone use and wearing headphones or earbuds.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, and use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up.