Keeping kids safe: Police offer tips, as school year begins
Attention drivers: put the phone down and keep an eye out for children.
As young students begin another school year, police and safety agencies are reminding everyone has a role in keeping children safe on their way to and from school.
Motorists, especially, are the focus of the message from the Illinois State Police.
The ISP says there will be more pedestrians and bicyclists in traffic in morning and afternoon commutes as children walk to bus stops or walk and bicycle to school.
And while crosswalks allow them to cross roads safely, children sometimes do unsafe things, like walking between parked cars. That's why drivers have to be extra cautious, state police say.
The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days when children are present.
Nobody should be driving while talking or texting on a handheld device. But if you do it in a posted school zone -- even while inching forward in the pickup line -- you will face a higher fine, according to the state police.
It isn't totally on drivers, however. Parents and caregivers should teach their children to use crosswalks and not run out between parked cars -- even in parking lots. At elementary schools in Geneva, for example, parents who park in a lot to pick up or drop off children are required to get out and walk with their children.
What should a driver do when a school bus stops to load or unload children?
If you are going in the same direction as the bus, you must stop, whether on a one-way street or a two-lane or four-lane road. If you are going in the opposite direction, and it is a two-lane road, you have to stop.
Teach your children to not walk in front of the bus. They should stand behind the curb, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, and board only when the driver or attendant tells them to do so, the American Red Cross advises.
Other safety tips
Police say parents should teach their children their home address and phone number, as well as a parent's cellphone number.
Naperville police suggest kids use the buddy system, walking to and from school with a friend, and staying with a group at a bus stop.
They also suggest that parents practice the walk with their children before school starts or visit the bus stop with them. Make sure the children know their bus number.
Children should also know the safety rule "Say No, Go and Tell," in case someone approaches the child offering a ride, asking for directions or making them uncomfortable. Tell them to say "no," get away ("go") and tell a trusted adult.
Also, teach your kids that they should never leave school with anyone that you haven't told them to. If someone tells them there is an emergency, they should check first with you or school personnel.
For children who will be home alone after school, Naperville police offer "On Your Own" safety materials, including forms for making plans, at naperville.il.us/npdschoolprograms. It summarizes the safety program taught in the third grade to students in all Naperville schools.
The older kids
The AAA says that nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs from 3 to 7 p.m. Remind your teens to slow down, reduce distractions, wear a seat belt, and be aware of their surroundings.
For more back-to-school safety tips, visit naperville.il.us/asafernaper or isp.illinois.gov/StaticFiles/docs/TrafficResources/School%20Bus%20Safety.pdf.