Children have been away from a vigilant routine for two months and drivers have had the same time to disregard school zones. Rural Crime Watch reminds children, parents and drivers to be especially alert and cautious during the school year, particularly the first few days of the new school year.
Driving near schools whether within the School Zone signs or not, requires hyper alertness at any time of the day. Children walking to and from school, running, playing and otherwise disregarding their safety is what drivers need to expect, even though that behaviour is not what you want to see in children.
Rural Crime Watch suggests children:
Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled pick up time. If you miss the bus, go back home or report to a teacher.
Take a seat as quickly as possible, put belongings under the seat and stay seated.
Wait until the school bus comes to a complete stop before getting off.
Rural Crime Watch suggests parents:
Respect your child’s school safety measures for dropping off and picking up your children. Respect posted speed limits, and designated drop-off and pick-up areas. Volunteers will be at schools recording your speed with the Speed Board and relaying that information to the police.
Review road safety rules with your children and the importance of not accepting rides or any invitations from strangers. It is best your child walk with a buddy and keep focused on getting straight to and from school.
Walk the walk and know the route your child will take to and from school. Then examine any alternate routes she may be tempted to take. Rural neighborhoods abound in short-cuts, some benign and others fraught with danger, both two legged and four.
Next, consider your child’s curiosities. What might draw him away from the task of traveling to and from school? Is it a pet store, newsstand, the squirrel family in the old aspen? Maybe the old abandoned barn in which they might seek shelter, the one ready to collapse at the slightest storm.
Look at the physical aspects of the route. Does your child have to walk on a highway? Is there a designated roadside path with significant space for several children to walk side-by-side similar to that in Lone Butte? Are there highway signs warning drivers of children on the highway? If your child waits for a bus at a pull-out, is there at least one parent present both morning and afternoon?
Most schools have a call-back system for children who are not at school. If school begins at 9 a.m., and your child isn’t there and you haven’t called, the school will call you. Make sure they have several numbers for you; yours and your partner’s business phone numbers, relatives or several other people whom your child could to in an emergency. Have a family code word that your child would use in the event a stranger attempted to make contact.
Rural Crime watch encourages you to crank up awareness and make sure the school year begins with safety, joy and enthusiasm. We welcome your input at www.ruralcrimewatch.com and on Facebook.
By Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz