Rockville - - - Children across the region are heading back to school and Fire Chief Richie Bowers is asking drivers to exercise extra caution as the school year begins. “Safety is our top priority. With schools back in session, drivers should allow extra time and be on the look-out for kids at intersections and in roadways,”said Chief Bowers. “Additionally, as a matter of safety and compliance with laws, drivers are reminded to put their cell phones down and refrain from talking or texting while driving.”
- Be alert and slow down. 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.
- Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before. Be alert. For many children this may be the first time they have ever traveled on a bus.
- Each passenger should wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat.
- Take extra time when making a right turn on a red light. This can be a dangerous situation for pedestrians.
- School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Be alert to children as you back out of your driveway or exit your garage.
- Expect delays near schools, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Safety on the road is
especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for
the first time.
Reminders for Parents and Children
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision and walk the route with your child beforehand.
- Children often have a hard time judging speed and distance and should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old. Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing.
- If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet! Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.
- Be sure that your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number and when to call 911 for emergencies.
- Only drive or park in authorized areas when picking up or dropping off students at school.
- Be a good neighbor. Respect private property and always be on your best behavior while waiting for the bus.
County police remind motorists that the violations of these Maryland Transportation Articles may results in the following penalties: speeding in a school zone incurs a fine of up to $1,000.00 and 5 points on your license and passing a school bus with flashing red lights incurs a fine of $570.00 and 3 points on your license. Parents who bring their children to school or pick them up after school are reminded to obey the “No Parking, No Stopping and No Standing” signs in a school zone. A violation of these signs incurs a fine of $50.00.
Parents need to carefully consider the pros and cons of having a child stay home alone before/after school. Be familiar with laws and child protective policies in your jurisdiction and, because children mature at different rates, your decision should not be based on age alone. Children should master important safety skills before staying home alone. Be sure to make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a designated “safe” area outside where everyone will meet if the smoke alarm sounds and ensure they know when and how to call
For the law in
Section 5-801 provides:
(a) A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confirmed in a dwelling, building, enclosure or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.