2017-08-04 / Front Page

School safety begins on the road

BY LAURA LEVERING
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Students won’t be the only ones experiencing changes in routine next week as they head back to school.

As thousands of students in Columbia and Richmond Counties return to class Monday, Fort Gordon safety officials advise the community to proceed with extra caution.

George Conrad, Fort Gordon and Cyber Center of Excellence senior safety specialist, said to expect a massive increase in traffic across the CSRA; mainly during morning and afternoon hours when students are arriving and leaving school. And with continued growth anticipated, drivers will have to become increasingly aware of their surroundings.

“We have a responsibility to look out for those school buses and look out for those kids crossing the streets,” Conrad said.

The most important thing drivers can do is remember that they will be sharing the road with other vehicles and pedestrians. Be on the lookout for school buses and students walking. Keep in mind that bus drivers and parents won’t be the only ones adding to the traffic. As the population and traffic increases, so will the number of student drivers, Conrad said.

“People need to be extremely cautious and aware that for the next few years we are going to have an increase not only in student population but also vehicle traffic,” Conrad said.

Know and abide by laws regarding school buses. It is against the law for vehicles to pass a bus that is stopped with its stop sign arm extended and lights flashing.

“The law is if that sign is out, you stop both ways; even on a five-lane road,” Conrad said. “People need to be aware.”

Whether you have a child in school or are merely someone who drives, familiarize yourself with the drop- off and pick-up points in your neighborhood and along your daily commute. Getting to know these points could help prevent an accident from happening.

“We have a lot of new people coming and they may not be familiar with the areas,” Conrad said. “Kids sit on the curbs or they’ll mingle, and you may not see them.”

Keep in mind the first week of school is the most chaotic. First-time bus riders will take time getting adjusted to riding the bus, and students who normally walk or take the bus might instead be dropped off by their parents during the first week.

“The first few days more people drop off their kids and pick them up,” said Melissa Barrickman, Fort Gordon school liaison officer. “It will take some time to make some adjustments and get some ‘real numbers,’ so be patient.”

“Adjust your times and always be on the lookout,” Conrad said.

Distracted walking

Distracted walking has become a growing safety concern as the number of children and teenagers who own electronic devices increases. A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in shows that in 2011 “a total number of 1,152 people of all ages were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. for injuries sustained while walking and using a cell phone or other electronic device.”

George Conrad, Fort Gordon and Cyber Center of Excellence senior safety specialist, said one of the best things a parent can do is talk to their child about the hazards of walking while distracted.

“It is against the law to drive with headphones,” Conrad said. “Parents need to make sure their kids understand they shouldn’t be walking with their headphones in.”

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