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Westport Police Prepare For Back-To-School

WESTPORT, Conn. – With the first day of school less than a week away, Westport police have stepped up patrols as part of its annual back-to-school enforcement and education campaign.

“We’ve been paying particular attention to school zones these past couple weeks,” Capt. Sam Arciola said. “The goal of the Westport Police Department is to protect children from motorists who disregard the law, especially around the school zones.”

Officers have been targeting traffic violators, specifically motorists who speed in school zones. During the summer, drivers become accustomed to not sharing the road with school buses or slowing down in school zones, Arciola said. The campaign is intended to get motorists back into that frame of mind by creating high police visibility in these areas, Arciola said.

Chief Dale Call said although officers “will not hesitate to hand out citations,” giving out tickets is not the goal.

“This enforcement campaign is designed to encourage everyone to practice safe driving and pedestrian habits,” Call said in a statement.

The campaign isn’t only geared toward drivers. It’s also intended to promote pedestrian safety, Arciola said. To ensure the safety of all, the department offers tips for drivers, parents, students and others.

For Children: Getting On and Off the Bus Safely:

  • Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver.
  • Get to the bus stop with plenty of time.
  • Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus.
  • Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting.
  • Never reach underneath the bus.
  • Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
  • Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
  • Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
  • When exiting, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Always follow the driver’s directions on crossing the street.
  • Always cross the street in front of the bus, but only when the bus driver signals it is safe to do so.
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
  • Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses. However, not all do. Protect yourself and watch out.

For Parents

  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.
  • Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus.  If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps that could get caught in the handrail or bus door.
  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.
  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.

For Drivers

  • Yellow flashing lights on the bus indicate that it is preparing to stop and load or unload children. This means cars need to slow down and prepare to stop.
  • It is illegal to pass a school bus with its red flashing lights and stop signal arm activated. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off or when the bus driver motions them through.
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop.
  • Vehicles moving in the opposite direction as the bus are also required to stop unless they are on a divided highway.
  • Never pass on the right side of the bus where children are entering and exiting.  This is illegal and can have tragic results.

For Car Passengers

  • Safety belts are the best form of protection passengers have in the event of a crash. They can lower the risk of injury by 45 percent.
  • You are four times more likely to be seriously injured or killed if ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
  • Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats and little kids in child safety seats.

For Pedestrians/Bicyclists

  • Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard. Never cross the street against a light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming.
  • Walk your bike through intersections.
  • Walk with a buddy.
  • Wear reflective materials: it makes you more visible to street traffic.

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