This is an exciting and quite often chaotic time for families. Routines of sleeping in, hanging out in front of the television and summer sports are suddenly interrupted by back-to-school early mornings. Across the city of North Platte and throughout surrounding areas children are preparing to return to school. Although as a driver you should always be cautious while operating a motor vehicle, the North Platte Police Department would like to remind drivers to pay attention over the next few weeks. All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those younger children, who are the least predictable and hardest to see.
Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise care and caution. It is at crosswalks that drivers need to be particularly attentive.
Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.
Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard.
Come to a complete stop prior to the crosswalk.
All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when the stop sign is extended and students are entering or exiting a school bus.
Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they are often inexperienced and not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions. On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane. Bicyclists can be hard to see. The riders are exposed and easily injured in a collision. Pay particular attention at intersections. Some tips are:
The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of the bicycle. You should wait for the cyclist to pass before attempting to turn
When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do so slowly and leave at least a distance between you and the bicycle of no less than 3 feet. Maintain this clearance until you have safely passed the bicycle.
Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.
Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.
Safety is also a responsibility of parents and guardians. The Police Department encourages those responsible to accompany their students over the first few days. This ensures our youth get to school safe and on time. Be a good role model. Children imitate their parents and model their behavior so you need to tell them and show them how to be safe pedestrians.
Always cross at marked crosswalks and try avoiding running across the roadway.
Obey any pedestrian signals and look left right left. By doing this you insure that the road is clear in both directions before crossing.
If a vehicle approaches, attempt to make eye contact with the driver to be sure they see you before you cross.
Look before walking past stopped vehicles. Do not cross just because a driver waves you on. Be sure all lanes are clear first.
Choose the safest route and walk it with your children. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings. Try to choose routes where school safety patrols will be present. Children under age 10 should walk with an adult or older child every day because they do not have the necessary skills to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic. Also, their peripheral (side) vision is 1/3 less than that of adults.
The NPPD wishes everyone a successful school year. Be Safe.