Time to think school safety as buses return to local streets
Stay alert and obey traffic laws, slower speeds and watch out for school buses
Back-to-school safety tips from Prescott Valley Police Department
Riding the bus:
• Make a habit of arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus.
• Stay out of the street and avoid excessive horseplay while waiting for the bus.
• Be sure the bus comes to a complete stop before getting on or off.
• When riding the bus, remain seated and keep your head and arms inside the bus at all times.
• Do not shout or distract the driver.
• Do not walk in the driver’s “blind spot” — the area from the front of the bus to about 10 feet in front of the bus.
• Always use public sidewalks and streets when walking to school.
• Try to walk to school with other students.
• Recognize and obey traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, crossing streets only at designated crosswalks, street corners and traffic-controlled intersections.
• Always look both ways before crossing the street and never enter streets from between obstacles like parked cars, shrubbery, signs, etc. Never run across intersections.
• Avoid talking to strangers. Never ride in a vehicle with someone you do not know.
They’re big. They’re bright yellow. They have flashing red lights.
In neighborhood and city traffic, they may travel at slower-than-posted speed limits. They stop a lot.
And their cargo is counted as THE most precious anywhere.
If you haven’t guessed yet, these are our school buses.
On Thursday, Aug. 1, Prescott Unified School District’s first day, a fleet of some 20 school buses will be navigating Prescott streets to give rides to hundreds of children who rely on the to-and-from transportation. Those will be followed by the school bus fleets in Humboldt Unified and Chino Valley Unified picking up students for their first day on Monday, Aug. 5.
With school days often starting at similar hours to commuter rush hour, local police and school leaders suggest that drivers plan to leave a little earlier, or later, than usual to avoid school traffic.
Drivers who are in a hurry or not paying attention cause many of the issues with speeding in school zones or violations with stopped buses, expensive offensives with tickets that cost just under $500, according to Prescott and Prescott Valley police.
“The bottom line with schools in session is you will see traffic increase,” said Prescott Police Department spokesman Lt. Corey Kasun. “Take the necessary precautions, allow for extra time and don’t be impatient to get somewhere.”
Most dangerous driving behavior can be linked to a single cause: impatience, Kasun said.
“We like to remind motorists that kids are excited as they come back to school, and they’re not always paying attention, and so it’s up to motorists to be extra vigilant around schools,” Kasun said. “And when you’re in a school zone, make sure nothing is distracting you from what you are supposed to be doing, and that is driving your vehicle.”
The speed limit in school zones is 15 mph.
“We will be out enforcing that,” Kasun said of patrols while area schools are in session.
School crosswalks also have stricter rules than regular pedestrian crosswalks, Kasun explained.
Motorists approaching the yellow crosswalks must stop and allow pedestrians to cross curb-to-curb before they proceed, rather than just passing across the travel lane, Kasun said.
As for school buses, Kasun said motorists in both directions on a roadway must stop when buses are flashing their emergency lights and extend their arms. They are to remain stopped until the bus proceeds again. The one exception is on a divided highway with a barrier – then only the motorists behind or in front of the bus on one side must stop, Kasun said.
If a fellow driver witnesses a violation, one not caught by bus surveillance or by law enforcement, Kasun advises them to jot down a license tag, if possible, so the police can then contact the motorist for education so as to stop future problems.
With children returning to school, Prescott Valley Police spokesman Sgt. James Risinger said it is a time to remind drivers and students to be aware of their surroundings, and follow speed and pedestrian laws so that everyone stays safe.
On Glassford Hill Road — the location of Humboldt Unified’s Granville Elementary, Glassford Hill Middle School and Bradshaw Mountain High school –digital speed signs are located near those entrances that remind drivers to reduce speed to 35 mph.
As for other helpful tips, the Prescott Valley police advise students who ride the bus to be sure they arrive at the stop at least five minutes before arrival and to stay out of the street, and be aware of moving cars, while they wait.
For students who may walk or ride a bike to school, they should leave plenty of time to arrive to school, preferably at least 10 minutes before the beginning bell is scheduled to ring. Students should follow familiar routes, and never go somewhere other than school or home without permission. Rely on public sidewalks and streets, following traffic signals, crosswalks, street corners and traffic-controlled intersections. When walking, students should attempt to travel together.
Avoid talking to strangers, and never get into a vehicle with someone the student does not know, department officials recommend.
“Public safety is everyone’s responsibility,” Risinger offered.