Fairfax County Police urge motorists to be extra vigilant for pedestrians and bicyclists as county schools resume classes Tuesday, September 2.
Commuters should expect increased congestion throughout the week and build time into their schedules to accommodate for the traditionally heavy time period. Residents may also notice police officers posted in school zones and near bus stops helping ensure pedestrian safety as well as safe loading and unloading of students.
Along with our traffic safety partners at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), police ask residents to remember that fewer hours of daylight make it harder for motorists to see children. Nationally, more school-age pedestrians are killed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other times of day.
Other back-to-school safety tips from NHTSA include the following:
School Bus: School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. Even so, kids need to be especially careful around the school bus “danger zone” – 10 feet in front, 10 feet behind, and on each side of the bus. Kids should:
- Wait five giant steps from the road and when the school bus arrives, wait until the driver says to board.
- When boarding the school bus, quickly find a seat, sit facing the front and do what the school bus driver says to do.
- When exiting the bus, look out for cars. When off the bus, take 5 giant steps from the school bus.
- Look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming and wait for the driver to signal it’s safe to cross.
Walking: Pedestrians 10 years old and younger should be accompanied by an adult or young adult on their way to and from school. Kids should:
- Walk on the sidewalk and if there is none, walk facing traffic.
- Not push or shove others when you walk.
- When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars. Do not cross if a car is coming and use a crosswalk if available.
Biking: The two best protections when biking to and from school are a properly fitted bicycle helmet and a good grasp of traffic safety rules. Kids should:
- Always wear a helmet and make sure to buckle the chin strap.
- Ride along streets with low traffic volume and at lower speeds.
- Always ride in the same direction as traffic, and stop at all stop signs and signals.
- Never use headphones or cell phones while riding.
Car: Children should always ride in the back seat. Children in the front seat are 40 percent more likely to be injured in crashes.
Police remind drivers that when bus lights and stop signs are activated, vehicles must stop in both directions, unless they are separated from the bus by a median.
In 2013, there were a total of 9,587 motor vehicle crashes in Fairfax County. Please drive with care.
Traffic safety is a high priority for the Fairfax County Police Department. To learn more about traffic safety issues contact Master Police Officer Allie Eggers at 703-280-0530.