Do your part to ensure safe driving around schools

Schools are back in session, and drivers have the responsibility to ensure local youth have every opportunity to be safe as they travel to and from schools.

According to Susanville Police Department Public Information Officer Victoria Estrada, crossing guards are already making calls regarding unsafe drivers around school zones.

“Our number one concern is to ensure (students’) safety. And that our students can make it to and from school safely,” said Estrada.

Estrada also noted there have been complaints about high school students driving at fast speeds on Riverside Drive around the park during lunch time.

Overall, it’s all our responsibility to lower our speeds around town and to avoid distractions — yes, even hand-free cell phone conversations — to avoid the risk of endangering children entering the roadways.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, there are many precautions to take when driving around school zones:

Drivers should be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians, and should obey crossing guards’ directions, allowing them and the children to safely get to the side of the road before driving through the intersection.

Moreover, drivers should be on the alert for school buses and children crossing the street.

“Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing. If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for one year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.”

The DMV website also instructed drivers to take precautions and follow laws around schools.

“When driving within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street, the speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted. Also, if the school grounds have no fence and children are outside, never drive faster than 25 mph. Some school zones may have speed limits as low as 15 mph. Always drive slowly and carefully near schools, playgrounds, parks, and residential areas because children may suddenly run into the street. Also, many children have not yet developed the ability to judge speeds and distances well enough to cross streets safely when cars are moving fast,” according to the DMV.

All Lassen County drivers should continue to do their part to ensure children can safely get to school.

If you notice someone driving distracted or erratically, call dispatch at 257-2171.