"Safety is important," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison told The Brazil Times. "Families should take this time to get together and review many important safety tips that will help make the school year a safe one for everyone."
School Bus and Bus Stop Safety
* Children need to make sure that no traffic is coming before crossing a road to get to school or at a bus stop.
* Children should always remain in clear view of the bus driver and wait for the bus to come to a complete stop at the curb before attempting to enter.
* When inside, children should take a seat quickly and not run around on the bus.
"Motorists need to be cautious and alert during the morning and afternoon travel times for school buses," Harrison said, about drivers needing to be aware that there are school zone areas in the city where the speed limit is reduced. "We also have officers in the areas around North Clay Middle School and Northview High School in the mornings and afternoons, and at East Side Elementary in the afternoons, to help control traffic. Drivers need to be aware and keep an eye out for school buses and then slow down to the appropriate speed limit."
* Drivers should make sure that all passengers in a vehicle should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
* Parents should consider limiting the number of passengers in their teenager's vehicle because it has the potential to prevent driver distraction. Drivers should never overload a vehicle with too many passengers and not enough seatbelts while carpooling.
* Drivers need to stay alert while driving and not eat, drink or talk on a cell phone while driving.
"A lot of accidents occur while (novice) teen drivers are going to and from school. The department has worked several accidents in the past few years on State Road 340 and along Kennedy's Crossing Road, many of which where because the driver was running late," Harrison said. "Parents need to make sure their teens allow for enough time to get to school in the morning so they are not hurrying. In the mornings they are hurrying to school, and the afternoons they are hurrying to get out of school."
School Drop-Off Safety
* Parents should contact each school for their vehicle drop-off policy to determine location and times for bringing and picking up students.
"Each school has its own policies that parents and high school students need to be familiar with," Harrison said. "Then drivers need to use caution when approaching these areas to ensure the safety of students and faculty."
Walking and Bicycling Safety
* Wearing clothing that has bright colors will make a child more visible to motorists.
* There is strength and safety in numbers, which is why officials believe organizing groups of three or more students to walk to school or the bus stop together will help detour predators.
* Although many parents allow their children to have cell phones, it can be a distraction, even while walking. Parents should remind children to only use the phone in case of an emergency.
* Because young children can be impulsive and less cautious than they should be when left alone, officials urge parents to be realistic about whether their child is really ready to walk to school or a bus stop without adult supervision.
"Walking with someone is safer than walking alone," Harrison said, adding that older children can help keep an eye on younger children when walking in groups.
During the school year, Harrison said officers with the Brazil City Police Department make an extra effort to heighten patrols in areas around local schools throughout the day.
"There are six schools in the city and we try to drive by each one daily, especially when we knew the students will be outside," Harrison said.
While most children are told to "not talk to strangers," unfortunately many children have a hard time identifying whom a stranger really is.
"Parents need to talk about stranger danger with their children," Harrison said. "Parents need to talk with not only first-time students, but older children also need a refresher course in safety."
For more information about school safety, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211.