The Waterloo Police Department is reminding the motoring public to be extra alert this time of year as school will soon be back in session.  The Cedar Valley Catholic Elementary Schools will begin classes on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, and the Waterloo Community School District Elementary Schools will begin classes on Thursday, August 20, 2009.

It is an exciting time of year for children, especially children who will be attending school for the first time.  Unfortunately, it also means that young, inexperienced children are in the traffic mix, where they are more at risk to be struck by vehicles.

Motorists can help reduce the risk to children going to and from school by:

*Slowing down in school and residential areas

*Watching for clues that give warning of children in the area (bicycles, crossing guards, school buses)

*Obeying school bus stop laws

*Clearing fogged windows before driving

*Obeying all traffic signs/signals

*Avoiding school zones during arrival and dismissal hours

Each year, from across the Country, vehicles strike thousands of children.  The Waterloo Police Department suggests that all parents instruct their children in safe crossing practices before the opening of school, including walking the route with your children.

Instruct children on how to judge if there is adequate time to cross a street and never enter the roadway from between parked cars.  When there is no sidewalk and it is necessary to walk on the roadway, walk on the far left side, facing traffic.  Whenever possible use crosswalks and designated school crossings.

Drivers should be aware of the school bus stopping laws.  When meeting or following a school bus with flashing amber lights, drivers shall reduce their speed to 25 mph and shall bring their vehicle to a complete stop when the school bus stops and the stop arm is extended.  The vehicle shall remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted.

The driver of a vehicle on a highway that provides two or more lanes in each direction need not stop upon meeting a school bus, which is traveling in the opposite direction, even though the bus is stopped.  The driver of a vehicle overtaking a school bus shall not pass a school bus when red or amber warning signal lights are flashing.  The driver shall bring their vehicle to a complete stop no closer than fifteen feet from the school bus when the stop arm is extended, and shall remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted and the bus resumes motion.  Violation of this traffic law will result in a $195.00 fine.

Remember, some children, especially those going to school for the first time, may have never learned traffic safety.  Others may have forgotten over the summer.  Drivers need to be cautious around schools, bus stops and areas where children walk to school.

Captain John Beckman
Waterloo Police Department
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