METHUEN — With the start of the school year quickly approaching, Interim Chief Randy Haggar and the Methuen Police Department would like to offer students, parents and motorists several important safety tips ahead of students returning to school.
Parents should plan to allow extra time when dropping off their students on the first day of school, which is Sept. 1 for grades 1-12.
“We hope these tips will facilitate a safe and healthy start to the school year,” Chief Haggar said. “We are excited to see returning students and parents and welcome them into a new school year while keeping everyone safe”.
Traveling to School Safety
The National Safety Council (NSC) provides the following tips for students and parents to safely get to school:
Walking to School
- Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic
- Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
- Stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk. Never cross the street while using an electronic device. Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street.
Riding a Bike to School
- Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in single file
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street
- Stay alert and avoid distracted riding
- Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing
- Helmets appropriate for bicycling should be worn by everyone – adults and children – on every bike ride regardless of length of the ride.
Riding the Bus to School
- Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus
- Teach your children to stand six feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb
- If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other
Driving Your Child to School
- Stay alert and avoid distracted driving
- Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure
- Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street
Safety Tips for Motorists
It is important that motorists be alert while driving, especially in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Children can be unpredictable and may ignore hazards and take risks. The NSC provides the following tips for motorists:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection. Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist. Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
Motorists are also reminded that the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law requires drivers to stay off of all electronic devices while driving.
“I am thrilled to welcome incoming students to the Methuen Public Schools, and it is our goal to provide a safe and secure learning environment at all times while keeping a focus on safe travels to and from school each day,” said Methuen Mayor Neil Perry, “Our Department of Public Works has taken extra steps to keep students safe by painting crosswalks near schools to ensure they stand out more to drivers. The new red crosswalks, along with closely following these safety tips, will make a big difference in ensuring everyone has a safe return to school.”
The Methuen Police Department wishes everyone a happy and safe return to school!