AMHERST – Sending kids to the first day of school can be scary for parents, particularly when it comes to traffic.
“We want, especially new parents with new kids, to quickly look around and make sure they are aware the crosswalks and the parking regulations around the schools,” said Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst Police Department.
– Drop off zones
Traffic congestion around schools is particularly dangerous. To prevent congestion a good rule is to Kiss and Drop.
“A lot of people are parking in the drop-off zones and getting out and then nobody else can drop their kids off there,” said Const. Michelle Harrison. “That’s how the congestion happens.”
Hickman Street in front of West Highlands, and Charles and Academy Streets on each side of Spring Street Academy is where congestion builds quickly.
“People sometimes park on both sides of the road and it's only one lane of traffic,” said Wood.
Parking regulations don’t prevent parents from walking their kids to the school doors.
“It might mean walking an extra block or so, but there’s a lot of side streets where you can park safely and walk your kids,” said Wood.
Also, parents are asked not to drop kids off in school parking lots.
“The parking lots are for staff only. It’s a safe zone as well, so kids don’t have to worry about traffic rushing in and out of there,” said Wood.
Police will also be making sure vehicles are yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, but Harrison says it’s not just drivers who need to be careful at crosswalks.
“Parents should make sure their kids are aware of the crosswalks and to make sure they stop and look both ways,” said Harrison. “Establishing eye contact with the driver is key because then you know the driver has seen you.”
“Also, some kids think they’re invincible and when they get to a crosswalk they just cross and think the driver has to stop but that’s not the case,” added Wood.
– Speed limits
Sometimes drivers are going too fast to stop for kids but exceeding the speed limit is school zones will result in a speeding ticket.
“The speed limit drops down to 30 km/h, and some people are not doing that,” said Wood.
– School buses
Passing a school bus when its red lights are flashing will lead to a ticket of more than $400.
“Michelle and myself are going to be out at checkpoints at the beginning of the year advising motorists to make sure they’re watching for buses,” said Wood. “When you see the red lights flashing going either way, you have to stop.”
Its not just the kids who are excited about the first day of school, Harrison and Wood say they are excited as well.
“I’m super-excited for the start of the school year and seeing the excitement on the staff and students faces,” said Harrison.