August is National School Safety Month: Use Caution
By Joe Olvera ©, 2011
With the Socorro Independent School District having its first day of classes on August 2, 2011 – the other districts all start school on August 23, 2011 – parents are reminded once again to take measures to protect their school-age children. Since August is Back to School Safety Month, it’s imperative that drivers need to do their part to keep kids safe as they walk to school, or ride a bike.
Preventing injuries of any kind whether children are at work, at home, or at school becomes of paramount importance and no alert can be too early to remind parents, drivers, teachers, and other school personnel to be on the lookout because accidents do happen. In El Paso, law enforcement is getting tougher in ensuring children’s safety For example, a new law prevents the use of cell phones while driving in school zones. The law, which was passed in September, 2009, requires that signs be posted informing drives of the new requirement. Although El Paso was late in putting up the signs, it gave as its excuse that doing so would cost the community up to $463,000.
The new law and other procedures to protect children become more important because, sometimes even obeying the rules, children can be affected. On January 6, 2010, a middle school girl was struck by a car on her way to school while using a crosswalk. Accidents can happen at any time. During the last legislature, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have outlawed people under age 18 from texting while driving through a school zone. Perry believes that educating drivers about not using such devices is more important because, he said, he doesn’t want to legislate adults’ behavior.
Not only in El Paso, but, throughout the State of Texas, the following safety tips are meant for all drivers, teens included:
*Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones;
*Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs;
*Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully;
*Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours;
*Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.
A reminder for kids include:
*They should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old;
*Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks;
*Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars.