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Ask the Chief Deputy: Tips for parents, new drivers as school begins

September 3, 2018

It seems like yesterday that children were getting out of school for the summer. Don’t look now, but the new school year has arrived.

These are exciting times for kids as they get to visit with their friends again and school sporting events are underway.

This is also a challenging time for parents of new 16-year-olds who get to drive to school for the first time. It can also be challenging for all of us who have to be aware of children walking to school and to bus stops.

The days are already getting shorter and the early morning hours are still dark depending on when you get your kids up.

Here are a few things to consider for when your children are going to school:

n Wear reflective clothing and bright colors so drivers can see you.

n Make sure your kids leave early enough for school or the bus stop to avoid running and having to dart across a street to make it on time.

n Plan a safe walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings as possible, with intersections that have traffic controls.

n Do not wear ear buds listening to music as this limits your hearing and could put you in danger with traffic.

n Pay special attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards.

Here are some tips for new drivers:

n Do not drive while distracted. Keep your phone away from your hands.

n Be cautious around bus stops and school zones.

n Do not allow friends to distract you while driving. Politely tell them to put their seat belt on and help look for any dangers that may be on the roadway.

n Leave early so you don’t have to rush to get to school. Always anticipate a slowdown while driving so that extra time is already built in.

A message to parents:

The beginning of the school year tends to be a busy time. Kids need to be picked up from practice, band concerts, dances, games, etc. Make sure you have a plan with your children who may arrive home from school before you get home from work.

Do they have a key to the house? We get calls from concerned citizens who see a person crawling through a window. You don’t want that scenario played out when it involves your child.

Please take the time to talk to your kids and make sure they are safe getting to and from school.

— Chad Clark is chief of patrol operations for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Email questions to Askpatrolchief@gmail.com

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