The streets in the mornings and afternoons are filled with cars, bikes, SUVs and buses. The sidewalks, too, are lined with pedestrians, short and tall. This can only mean one thing: It’s back to school in Kern County!
Students in K-12 schools started the new school year Aug. 14, including the largest elementary and high school districts in the state, Bakersfield City School District and Kern High School District. In all, roughly 200,000 students are enrolled in K-12 schools locally.
With so many people hitting our roadways starting this week, and continuing through the summer, Chain | Cohn | Stiles — along with local public safety agencies — are reminding local residents to keep safety in mind always to and from school, and to share the road — motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike.
Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office, among others, will be conducting a maximum enforcement effort in and around school zones with the goal of preventing traffic collisions, and educate the public on pedestrian and bicyclist safety. In addition, officers will be distributing bicycle and pedestrian safety pamphlets in the area of local schools.
“The Bakersfield Police Department would like to remind and encourage motorists in our community to be aware of their speeds when entering school zones, avoid any form of distracted driving, watch for school crossings and school bus loading zones, and show respect to the other motorists on the roadway,” the department said in a statement. “Motorists need to be sure to plan enough time for their commute and be aware that traffic may be especially congested in school zones during the first week of school.”
Here are some more safety tips to protect your children and make sure they remain safe through the school year, courtesy of California Office of Traffic Safety and other local safety agencies.
- Always be on the lookout for children when traveling around schools, especially during pick-up and drop-off times.
- Map out a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school.
- Work with your neighbors and your child on identifying “safe houses,” or homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
- Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways, and construction areas.
- Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
- Teach your children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied. Choose a different route or walk on the opposite side of the street.
TO AND FROM SCHOOL
- Avoid distractions while driving like texting, talking on the phone, and eating.
- If your child takes the bus, remind them to line up away from the curb and look both ways when getting on or off the bus. Children need to pay attention to traffic signals and use crosswalks with a crossing guard if available.
- Know what to do around buses. Flashing yellow lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop and flashing red lights means stop. California law requires drivers in both directions to stop until the red lights are no longer flashing.
- Teach your children to make sure the bus driver can see them before walking in front of the bus, and to never walk behind a bus.
- If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up. Don’t speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver, and stay in your seat. Don’t put your head, arms or hands out the window.
- For bicyclists, always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly. Use hand signals when turning, and stay in the bike lane whenever possible.