Oregon DOT Stresses Safety Ahead of Walk & Bike To School Day

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Tomorrow is an important day for pedestrian safety.  In countries across the world, schools and safety agencies will be stepping out in support of Walk & Bike to School Day, which aims to encourage students to take alternative means of transport to and from school in a safe manner.  Oregon is just one of many states taking part in the initiative, and the state’s Transportation Department is urging students to protect their wellbeing by following these pedestrian and bicycle safety tips.

One of the most most important things for any pedestrian to understand is the necessity of maintaining visibility.  If a motorist can’t see you, all the defensive driving in the world won’t prevent an accident.  To curtail the threat, students are advised to affix either a blinking light or some type of reflective item to their backpack or their clothing.  In addition, children can wear bright clothes that will more easily get the attention of passing drivers.

Safety should remain paramount whenever a student walks to school.  When crossing a street, he or she needs to verify that all lanes of traffic are going to be clear and that drivers have acknowledged their presence and stopped accordingly.  In areas where a traffic signal is available, children should wait for the opportune moment to cross and then keep their eyes out for signs that an inattentive driver or cyclist might be barreling down the road.  Look left, right, and then left again to stay safe.

Bicyclists also need to take precautions.  This means moving with the flow of traffic and following the same laws that pertain to automobiles.  Just like with pedestrians, visibility needs to be ensured through the implementation of bright clothing and other materials that draw the automobile’s attention.  If a child does end up having to use the sidewalk, then he or she should move no faster than a pedestrian would and disembark from the bike at those moments when foot traffic is heavy.  Finally, students ought to wear a helmet so that they’re protected if an accident occurs.

Motorists themselves can take steps to reduce the chance that they’ll be involved in a collision with a pedestrian or a bicyclist.  If your commute in an automobile is going to bring you into or near a school zone, then you should be driving more defensively than you normally would.  And remember that pedestrians have the right of way at every intersection.

Finally, let’s not forget about the many benefits of walking and bicycling to school.  Doing so promotes a healthy lifestyle among kids, it gets them energized for the coming day, and it saves families money on gas.  So get out there and celebrate Walk & Bike to School Day!