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Back To School Safety

POSTED September 1, 2010 11:31 a.m.
I always remembered being late on the first day of the new school year.My day would usually start by sleeping through the alarm clock and being awakened by my parents pounding on my door. I would jump out of bed and quickly rummage through my closet for something to wear. If I were lucky I would have enough time to eat a piece of toast, before I was pushed out of the house. I would rush across the street with my backpack in hand, mindless of all the traffic around me, hoping to be in time to catch the school bus. This is how I usually started the first day of the new school year. You would probably agree that more careful planning should have gone into my first day of the new school year. For that matter, it is important for parents to carefully plan their children’s mornings before every school day to ensure they arrive safely at school.With that in mind, I am offering a few safety concerns and tips for children and parents for the new school year. Know your child’s school route It’s not uncommon for a parent to call the Police Department and want to report their child missing after school. They are typically in a panic because their child isn’t home at the designated time. The problem is compounded for police when parents are not aware of their child’s route to and from school. This could all be avoided by speaking with your child about an agreed upon route to and from school. You should always ask your child when they will be home or if they have any plans after school. They should be encouraged to notify you of any changes. Believe me, taking these precautions could save you hours of worry about the safety of a loved one. Warn your child about safety crossing city streetsEvery parent should remember to speak with his or her child about being careful. Especially when they are crossing busy streets when walking or riding their bicycle to school. Seventeen people were injured crossing Oakdale streets last year. I might add that most of the accidents occurred in crosswalks and resulted in a hospital visit. The California vehicle code section 21954 reads:“Every Pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard. The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”Please take note that it is both the driver’s and the pedestrian’s responsibility to be cautious of motorists when crossing a roadway. When motorists fail to pay attention to pedestrians it is usually because they are eating food, talking on their cell phones, or adjusting their stereo. I recommend that before you cross any busy streets you always look before you step into the road. You want to also make eye contact with the motorists to determine if he sees that you are trying to cross. Remind your child to wear a bicycle helmetA common safety violation that I see is children failing to wear their bicycle helmets. It’s not uncommon to see children riding along a roadway without wearing their helmets. Some children choose to have their helmets tied to the front handlebars. Parents need to remind their children to wear their safety equipment.  Remember it is the law. The California Vehicle Code states: “A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.”Hopefully, I’ve offered you a few school-related safety suggestions that will be of benefit to you and your children. Following these basic tips will help keep your child safe and you from worrying about him or her throughout the new school year. Cop Corner is a monthly column provided by officers of the Oakdale Police Department, offering a variety of information and safety tips.

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