With the new school year starting Monday in Harford County, sheriff's deputies remind motorists to slow down and be aware of school buses and children walking to and from school.
Although children have been outside playing all summer, it has been typically at ball fields, parks and playgrounds, the Harford County Sheriff's Office noted in a recent news release. With school in session, children will be walking to school, congregating at bus stops and will be more visible on town and county streets and roads.
It is also noteworthy that some of these time periods will occur in the early morning hours, while it is still dark. In addition, Harford County Public Schools officials have said several hundred additional children will be walking this year because of recent changes in bus policies.
Sheriff's deputies remind drivers to be alert at all times and of the need to reduce speed countywide, and especially in school zones and in areas where children walk to school. Drivers should take time to identify these high risk areas.
"Drivers are also reminded they are required to stop for school buses and to be alert for children who may dart into traffic after getting off the bus," the Sheriff's Office news release states. "Additionally, distracted driving is a serious concern and police continue to stress that drivers should not text or operate cell phones while driving."
Parents, meanwhile, should teach children how to safely cross streets by following the direction of school crossing guards and mechanical crosswalk signs. Children should look both ways and cross at the crosswalks – never from between parked cars.
Children should preferably wear bright clothing and parents can even consider purchasing flashing strobe lights that attach to backpacks. These lights are quite visible, day or night, and often draw the driver's attention to the pedestrian.
"While we know this is difficult because of its popularity, children should not be walking with ear buds, as this reduces their ability to hear oncoming traffic, nor should they be texting while walking where their attention is distracted, further exposing them to risk," the news release states.
"Deputy sheriffs in Harford County are parents too and want everyone's children, like their own, to come home safe each day," Sheriff Jesse Bane said. "Working together as a community, striving to be responsible drivers and pedestrians, are the first steps and go a long way in achieving that goal."