More school safety tips for drivers, pedestrians
I hope you can indulge me for one more school safety-related article before the start of the year next week for schools throughout Kewaunee County.
A few weeks ago in this column, I had touched on issues related to school buses and the laws that apply to keep them and their passengers safe.
Subsequently, I had a wonderful conversation with an experienced bus driver who stated he appreciated the article and wanted people to know that, as school bus operators, they are aware of both vehicles and pedestrians and consider the presence and proximity of both when activating their warning equipment.
Please do the same when approaching a school bus. With the new transition to having yellow warning signals before the red stop signals, bus drivers have witnessed the same phenomenon that occurs at a set of stop lights. While the yellow caution light should be just that; a signal for cautious driving, it more often results in vehicles speeding up to beat the red signals. Please do not be that driver.
Continuing with the subject of back-to-school safety, I would like to focus on those who make their way to and from our institutions of learning on foot.
While there are always pedestrians in our communities, the beginning of the school year will definitely bring an increase in that traffic and therefore the need for greater awareness.
In any accident, there is usually more than one contributing factor, and this is also true in vehicle-vs.-pedestrian accidents.
I would like to focus first on the obligations of those operating a motor vehicle.
Please be aware that in the state of Wisconsin, pedestrians in a crosswalk have right of way. Crosswalks are usually found in the urban settings with lower speed limits, so there should be plenty of time to recognize and respect their existence and those utilizing them.
When traveling through both business districts and school districts with vehicles parked along the street, please maintain a higher sense of awareness, as pedestrians may not always use the crosswalks and step out between vehicles, giving you much less response time.
If you see a pedestrian preparing to cross, do not assume he or she sees you or your vehicle, and maintain a high level of awareness.
For those who are on the pedestrian side of the equation, please be aware of your surroundings as well.
While I know it may be quicker and save a few steps, crossing outside of the crosswalk removes you from any of the privileges you have by state law.
If you have to cross mid-block, take every precaution to make sure that it is indeed safe to cross. Do not assume that any of the vehicles actually see you. Rather, assume they do not.
For parents of the school-bound, know their routes of travel and maybe even walk the routes with them, either in the first few days or prior to school commencing. Go over emergency precautions regarding what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation. And, while not always stylish or available, try to have something brightly colored on their persons that will increase their visible presence.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: More school safety tips for drivers, pedestrians