Traditional schools are back in session, so the Wake Forest Police Department is taking the opportunity to remind motorists to practice safe school zone driving practices and be aware of cyclists, pedestrians and buses.
Police officials urge drivers to always pay attention when driving, but especially when school is in session. Morning drive times between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. are especially significant, as well as the afterschool times of 2 p.m. through dusk.
Burlington Mills Road Closure
Due to the closure along Burlington Mills Road, traffic is expected to be especially heavy in the vicinity of Heritage High School, Heritage and Wake Forest Middle Schools, and Heritage Elementary School. Police are again urging motorists who travel along the detour route to plan ahead, be patient, and allow extra time.
Share the Road
In addition to driving at safe speeds, motorists are reminded to safely share the road with buses and remember the following:
- Always stop when behind a bus with its crossing arm extended.
- Stop when facing the bus if on a two-lane roadway, two-lane roadway with center lane, or four-lane roadway without a median separation.
- More specific information on the North Carolina School Bus Stop law can be found at www.ncbussafety.org.
To further promote traffic safety, pedestrians are urged to use sidewalks when possible and walk facing traffic as a safety precaution. Pedestrians should also use crosswalks when crossing a street. By law, motorists are required to stop for any pedestrian at any marked crosswalk. However, any pedestrian that chooses to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right of way to vehicles upon the roadway.
Bicyclists should remain on the road and ride with traffic, obeying all traffic signals and signs as if driving a motor vehicle. Children under the age of 16 are required by NC law to wear a helmet.
The police department suggests the following back-to-school safety tips:
- Slow down.
- Be especially careful when driving on neighborhood streets and around school zones. Always expect the unexpected.
- Be alert for children walking to and from school as you back out of your driveway or leave your parking garage.
- Watch for children on bicycles, especially at intersections and driveways. Young bicyclists have a tendency to dart out of driveways without looking for traffic.
- Stop your car when you see lights flashing on a school bus. Red flashing lights indicate that the bus is stopped and students are getting on or off.
- Do not start driving until the red lights stop flashing. Be aware that a child may dash across the street.
- When you approach a school bus picking up a child, it is the law to stop. When the flashing lights come on and the red stop sign extends that means STOP.
Drivers (If you drive your child to school.)
- Be patient and plan ahead. Traffic around school zones tends to be especially congested during the first few weeks of school. Allow yourself enough time to get to school and then to work. Leave earlier to avoid the potential “to speed” getting to your destination on time.
- Make sure that your child is in their safety seat or restrained properly when you are taking them to school. Every person in the vehicle must buckle up.
- Pay extra attention at crosswalks. Take an extra look to be sure that no students are crossing.
- Obey all signs, safety patrol and officers in your school zone. They are there to make the drop-offs and pick-ups run smoother.
- Drop children off as close to school as possible. If possible, avoid the need for children to cross the street.
- Follow all posted speed limits.
- Does your child ride a bicycle to school? Remember: State law requires anyone under the age of 16 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. It’s not just the law – it’s a good idea for everyone.
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus. Drivers in a hurry sometimes try to sneak by buses on the right.
- Make sure they leave home on time so that they can walk to the bus stop and arrive before the bus is due. Running can be dangerous.
- Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may be caught in the handrail or door of the school bus as they are exiting.
- Warn children that if they drop something near the bus they should never ever pick it up. Instead, they should tell the bus driver and follow the driver’s directions. If they bend over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the driver and could be hurt if the bus pulls away from the stop.
- Go to the bus stop with a young child and have older children walk in groups. There is safety in numbers because groups are easier for drivers to see.
- If you decide to meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can get so excited at seeing you after school they might forget safety rules and dash across the street.
For more information, contact the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.