Back to School Safety Tips

From Zone 2 Police Commander Eric Holmes

Every year at this time, over 55 million children across the United States head back to school. With 13 percent of those children typically walking or biking to their classes.

Back to school marks a change in seasons and a change in traveling for everyone. With school buses lining the streets and crossing guards posted at street corners it is important to be alert and aware on our roadways.

Whether commuting to work, carpooling to school or heading out for daily activities please take caution to ensure that everyone gets to where they are going and back home safely.

We at Zone Two would like to remind drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous – over the last decade, nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities in the US occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Launched in 1946, AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was created as a way to help reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. This campaign helps support the work of more than 600,000 school safety patrollers in 31,000 schools across the U.S.

Here are some helpful hints for everyone to keep in mind as we adjust to the increased traffic in our Zone Two neighborhoods:

  • Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph.
  • Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone, putting on make-up or eating while driving.
  • Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
  • Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Cross at the Crosswalk – Keep to where you’re most likely to be seen, and where you have the right-of-way.
  • STOP at Stop Signs. Treat a stop sign as you would a red light—come to a complete stop every time.
  • Slow Down! – Speed limits in school zones are below the posted speed limit.
  • Brake for BusesPassing a stopped school bus is against the law, so don’t do it.
  • Watch for Walkers and Cyclists – Be cautious and prepared, especially on sidewalks and be extra cautious around driveways, intersections and residential neighborhoods.
  • Cross at the Crosswalk – Keep to where you’re most likely to be seen, and where you have the right-of-way.
  • Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. If you see one of the more than 600,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers at 31,000 schools across the country, you know you’re approaching a school zone.
  • Avoid Distractions – Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Focus on where you’re going, no matter how you’re getting there.
  • Take Your Time – Allow extra time for school zone traffic or adjust your route to avoid it.

The City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has a professional and dedicated group of school crossing guards out there every school day helping to provide a safe environment for our kids as they travel to and from school each day.

Zone Two Traffic Safety and Calming Project

Starting this August 2014 I requested that speed recording (the electronic signs that flash your speed) devises be placed in the following neighborhoods in Zone Two:

  • Uptown
  • Strip District
  • Hill District
  • Oak Hill

The signs are in place and we are collecting the data.

I also requested that the following school zones be painted and or re-painted for the new school year.

  •  A. Leo Weil

Centre and Soho

Soho and Reed

Reed Street

  • St. Benedict the Moore

Webster and Watt

  • Aresenal School

Davidson and 40th

39th Street

  • Woolslair School

40th and Howley

  • City High

Stanwix and 3rd

  • CAPA

9th and Ft. Duquesne

  • N. S. Urban Charter

900 block Penn Avenue

  • Hill House Charter School

Centre Ave. and Heldman Street

The purpose of the Zone Two traffic calming project it to determine which streets and locations in Zone Two are lacking proper infrastructure, conditions, and signalization as well as to ensure the safety of the public: bicycling, walking, motoring, and pedestrian.

The following data will be gathered and reviewed:

  • Built conductions (crosswalk paint and curb paint)
  • Volume conditions
  • Signalization conditions
  • Speed

By conducting this traffic calming project (both overt and stealth) Zone Two strives to improve safety on the streets for walkers, bicyclists and drivers.

With the ultimate goal of, “Toward Zero Accidents and Deaths

The City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in general, Zone Two Station in particular are committed to protecting the lives of the traveling public. Toward Zero Accidents and Deaths represents the goal of reducing traffic accidents and fatalities to zero. As we know traffic accidents and deaths are preventable.

School’s Open – Drive Carefully

~Cmdr. Eric Holmes

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