Police Chief Warren B. Ryder
520 Massachusetts Ave.
Boxborough, MA 01719
Acton Police Department
Police Chief Francis J. Widmayer, III
371 Main St.
Acton, MA 01720
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Boxborough and Acton Police Offer Back to School Safety Tips
BOXBOROUGH – As families begin to prepare for the first day of school next month, Boxborough Police Chief Warren Ryder and Acton Police Chief Francis J. Widmayer, III would like to offer several safety tips to ensure a successful academic year.
The first day of school for students in grades one through seven in the Acton-Boxborough School District is Sept. 2. Those in eighth through twelfth grade will begin on Sept. 3.
“Safety is always our number one priority,” Chief Ryder said. “We ask that parents and guardians please follow these tips and talk to their children prior to the start of school.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reports that approximately 400,000 students in the state are transported to school by buses every year. While school bus travel is generally very safe, the majority of related injuries occur when boarding or exiting a bus because of passing traffic or due to walking in one of the bus driver’s blind spots. Children ages 4 to 7 are at the highest risk of injury.
Police recommend that parents follow safety procedures outlined by DPH to prevent accidents this school season.
• Educate children on safe bus riding and walking behaviors when getting on and off the bus.
• Before crossing the street, teach young children to take five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus and to wait for the driver’s signal before walking.
• Develop appropriate bus pick-up/drop-off policies.
• Closely supervise children under age 10 who must cross the street after exiting the bus.
The fine for illegally passing a school bus is a maximum of $200, and repeat offenders may have their licenses suspended.
“We remind drivers to please be cautious as the new school year begins,” Chief Widmayer said. “Obey the rules of the road and remember to yield to pedestrians and school buses when they’re stopped and their lights are flashing.”
If walking to school, or when exiting the bus, parents and guardians should educate students about safely crossing the street. DPH reports that pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among school-aged children 5 to 18 years old.
Most injuries to children in kindergarten through third grade occur when they run into the street mid-block, while older students are most often hurt at intersections. To prevent potential tragedies, children should:
• Be aware of pedestrian hazards and how to avoid them
• Know traffic signs and signals, and safe walking zones
• Wait for the “walk” signal at a crosswalk, or for a crossing guard to signal the OK to proceed into the street
Additionally, before sending your child off to school in the morning, Chief Ryder and Chief Widmayer recommend checking backpacks to make sure they are a tolerable weight. The American Chiropractic Association advises that backpacks should weigh no more than 10 percent of a student’s body weight, as heavy pressure can negatively affect the skeletal and muscular development in children.