It’s been almost two years since a motorist hit and seriously injured a student in a crosswalk on N. State Street as she made her way to school. A crossing guard controlled the crosswalk, which was clearly marked as a school zone, and other cars had stopped to allow students to cross. Tragically, one driver did not stop and the student in the crosswalk did not see the oncoming vehicle.
Since this terrible accident, the City has made this and other school crossings more visible, and it is evaluating other routes to schools to make them safer, too. At the Ukiah Police Department (UPD), we are committed to having a visible police presence at schools each morning and afternoon to remind drivers how important it is to watch out for pedestrians.
While I hope these things will help prevent future accidents, there is always more we can do. As the weather warms up, and more kids walk and bike to and from school, there’s no better time than now to keep the following safety tips in mind.
An excellent resource for parents to use in teaching their kids about traffic safety is: http://www.justdrivepa.org/Traffic-Safety-Information-Center/. This site offers great videos to help kids learn about pedestrian and bike safety, and by watching the videos together, parents can correct any myths kids may have heard from their friends. Here are some common ones:
Myth 1 – A green light means it is safe to cross the street.
Fact 1 – A green light means you should look for cars and only cross when it is safe. Continue looking for cars as you cross.
Myth 2 – You are safe in a crosswalk.
Fact 2 – Sometimes drivers can’t see you. The law requires cars to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but always make eye contact with drivers while you’re in a crosswalk to make sure they’re stopping for you.
Myth 3 – Drivers will stop if you’re in a crosswalk or at an intersection about to cross.
Fact 3 – Drivers can be distracted, their view may be blocked, or they may not see you. If you’re not sure whether you’ve been seen, stop and wait for the car to pass.
Myth 4 – It’s fine to wear headphones or talk on your cell phone while walking and crossing the street.
Fact 4 – Please put your phone and ear buds away so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend upon it!
For helpful tips on safe cycling, check out www.bicyclesafe.com . The article titled, “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” reviews ten collision scenarios and how to avoid them. The article points out that wearing a helmet is a fantastic idea; it can save your life, but it doesn’t prevent you from being hit.
If you’re a motorist, think of bikes as cars without safety features—no seat belts or crumple zones, no air bags, nothing between the person and the road (except maybe a bike helmet), so give them a little extra leeway to help ensure their safety.
Sharing the road with a cyclist is simple:
Allow extra space when passing bicyclists. If possible, give a bicyclist at least 3-4 feet of space when passing.
Slow down. Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a cyclist.
Keep your eyes open. Bikes can be hard to see, especially in your blind spots. Please pay special attention when driving through intersections and while parking.
Be extra cautious around kids on bikes. Expect the unexpected when you see a kid on a bike. Slow down and give them as much room as you safely can.
If you or your loved ones ride bicycles on the road, please wear your helmet and bright clothes, follow the rules of the road, and ride defensively.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.