School is back in session, and after an extended time away, the once quiet streets void of children and yellow buses, will be bustling with morning and evening activity again. As our students head back to school, we all need to be on the lookout for children traveling to school.
Neighborhoods around schools will see a dramatic increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Drive safe and avoid distractions like cell phones and loud music, which can take your attention away from the road and decrease reaction time.
The Eugene Police Traffic Safety Unit and Public Works Transportation Team would like to remind people driving, walking, biking and rolling to use extra caution, especially near schools. The following are some tips to make the morning commute safer and smoother for everyone:
- Budget extra time and be patient with delays. Exercise patience as families and children get used to the back-to-school commute. It’s a good idea to leave a little earlier than normal, budget extra time for your commute, and prepare for school area delays.
- Watch out for children walking and biking to school. Children who are excited about going back to school may not always be paying attention to traffic like they should. Drive defensively and be prepared to stop quickly.
- Obey traffic patrol members (crossing guards)—it’s the law. Crossing guards are in place to assist children with crossing the road in a safe manner. People driving are required by law to stop, and remained stopped, when a crossing guard indicates that children have entered or are about to enter a crosswalk.
- Stop for school buses. People driving must stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing, even if it is on the other side of the street (unless there is a median or barrier dividing the opposing lanes of traffic).
- Drive the speed limit and watch for school zones. The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph statewide. School speed zones are signed either "7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on school days" or as zones with actuated flashing lights and warning signs.
- Plan a safe and fun walk, bike or skate to school:
- Map a safe route to school. Select lower-traffic streets for your child’s walk or ride to school when possible (see SRTS resources below).
- When walking cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks, not mid-block. If there is a signal, wait for the walk signal or green light. Before crossing, make eye contact with people driving to ensure they see you.
- When biking know and follow the rules of the road. Under most circumstances, people biking must obey the same rules of the road as people driving. Always bike in the same direction as traffic and ride in the bike lane or as far to the right as is safe.
- When skateboarding use the sidewalk. Skateboarding is not allowed on Eugene streets, including bike lanes. People skateboarding can use paths and sidewalks, as long as they are outside of the downtown zone.
- Always wear a helmet when biking or skateboarding (for those under 16, it’s required by law).
- When riding the bus always cross the street in front of the bus, not behind it.
For additional information to help you prepare for the upcoming school year commute, visit Eugene Safe Routes to School (SRST) at eugenespringfieldsrts.org.