It’s only a short time until school starts up again, and Prince William County Crossing Guards want people to slow down and pay attention to the children that will be waiting at school bus stops and walking and biking to school.
Lt. Marie Snyder, Prince William County Police Crossing Guard Bureau, said children lack the skills to safely negotiate traffic on their own and can often surprise drivers with out-of-the-blue behavior. “What motorists really need to be aware of is that children are very unpredictable. They can step out in the road, and children don’t judge speed very well. They’re not sure if the vehicle is coming quickly or slowly. They don’t have that judgment yet. You really have to be on your toes. If there’s a child, be ready for something you don’t expect.”
Drivers should also be ready to meet school buses in the mornings and afternoons and be prepared to obey the signs. “The most important thing motorists can remember is that when the red lights come on, you need to stop. Never, ever pass a school bus with the stop signs out and the red lights on.”
There are some things parents can do to help keep their children safe on the way to school, as well. They should teach their children not to approach the school bus until it has come to a complete stop; and children should get off their bicycles and walk them across the road at the crosswalks. If you see a child on a bicycle, “Keep your eye on them and if you’re going to pass them, give plenty of room,” Snyder said.
Parents can tell their children to go all the way to the crosswalk and cross only at the crossing guard’s signal. “That is the safest way for them to get across the street… We have 89 crossing guards across the County that cross children safely every day; and they’re some of the most dedicated men and women you want to see. We have had no child seriously injured or killed while the children were crossing at our crossings; and I think that is an excellent safety record,” said Snyder.
As school starts, there will be more traffic on the road. More people are driving their children to school these days and Snyder advises drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time for their morning trips.