The bells are ringing in schools across Maryland and it’s time to brush up on the rules of the road for drivers and pedestrians.
The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) is asking pedestrians and drivers to share the road this coming school year so that everyone can have a great start to the back to school season. Parents should keep in mind that back to school lists should not only include books and supplies, but also a firm understanding of the Rules of The Road. Sharing information on how to walk smart, look both ways, obey to crossing guards, use crosswalks and stay alert will help students get to school safely and securely.
Through the three “E’s” of safety – engineering, education and enforcement – partners are working together to ensure that children stay safe this school year. SHA engineers monitor and evaluate school zones along State routes throughout the summer, making adjustments and adding traffic devices such as crosswalks, signs and flashing lights where needed.
“With schools starting back and the days getting shorter, we all need to pay extra attention and allow extra travel time since commutes will be impacted,” said SHA Acting Administrator Doug Simmons. “Don’t take short cuts—in school or on the road. Pedestrians should use crosswalks and children should cross with the assistance of crossing guards whenever possible.”
Tips below provide a reminder about the basic Rules of the Road, including pedestrian, driver and cyclist safety, as how to drive when around school buses.
WHAT TO DO WHEN APPROACHING A SCHOOL BUS
• When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time with children getting on or off the bus.
• It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.
• Drivers must be patient. There is simply no room for aggressive driving around a school bus.
DRIVERS NEED TO REMEMBER
• Realize that your commute takes longer when school is in session – allow more time.
• Understand that traffic fines can be doubled in school zones – worst case scenario a ticket could cost you nearly $1,000.
• Stay alert. Avoid distractions – especially mobile devices. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks.
• And remember, Maryland law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks.
WHAT PARENTS AND KIDS NEED TO KNOW
• Children and their parents need to review the rules of the road too.
• If traveling by school bus: have a safe place to wait for the bus, AWAY from traffic and the street, and stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
• When walking: only cross the street at a marked crosswalk, preferably one that has a crossing guard. Before crossing a street, look left, then right, then left again. Stay alert. Follow signals.
• When riding a bike, don’t ever ride your bike across an intersection. Get off and walk it across after looking both ways for oncoming traffic or waiting for a crossing signal. Children should always wear a helmet when cycling.
• Stay visible – wear light and/or reflective clothing, especially when walking in the dark.