| As summer winds down, the Chelmsford Police Department would like to remind the community of several safety practices when transitioning into the new academic year.
The new school year begins Sept. 2 for Chelmsford Public Schools.
The start of a new school year is an exciting time for students and parents alike, and we want to make sure that everyone starts the new year off on a safe note. By following these simple safety tips, we can all help ensure that everyone in our communities remains safe and healthy on the way to school, at school, and on the way home in the afternoon.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reports that approximately 400,000 students in the state are transported to school by buses every year. While school bus travel is generally very safe, the majority of related injuries occur when boarding or exiting a bus because of passing traffic or due to walking in one of the bus driver's blind spots. Children ages 4 to 7 are at the highest risk of injury.
• Educate children on safe bus riding and walking behaviors when getting on and off the bus.
• Teach young children to take five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus and to wait for the driver's signal before crossing.
• Develop appropriate bus pick-up/drop-off policies.
• Closely supervise children under age 10 who must cross the street after exiting the bus.
Yielding for the school bus is not optional, We aggressively pursue any motorist who fails to respect the flashing red lights, which indicate a little one is getting on or off the bus.
The fine for illegally passing a school bus is a maximum of $200, and repeat offenders may have their licenses suspended.
Additionally, before sending your child off to school in the morning, Chelmsford Police recommend checking backpacks to make sure they are a tolerable weight. The American Chiropractic Association advises that backpacks should weigh no more than 10 percent of a student's body weight, as heavy pressure can negatively affect the skeletal and muscular development in children.
If walking to school, or when exiting the bus, parents and guardians should educate students about safely crossing the street. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among school-aged children 5 to18 years old.
Most injuries to children in kindergarten through third grade occur when they run into the street mid-block, while older students are most often hurt at intersections. To prevent potential tragedies, children should
• Be aware of pedestrian hazards and how to avoid them
• Know traffic signs and signals, and safe walking zones
• Wait for the "walk" signal at a crosswalk, or for a crossing guard to signal the OK to proceed into the street
Thank you and stay safe.....
Chief James M. Spinney