Summer is quickly coming to an end and families across Dover are preparing to send their children back to school in the coming days. The Dover Police Department is offering the following information to better prepare the citizens we serve for Back to School week.
Police in Schools:
The Dover Police Department has a full-time officer dedicated to the Dover High School, Central Middle School, William Henry Middle School, and Parkway Academy. These officers are otherwise known as SRO’s or School Resource Officers. We encourage parents to tell their children to communicate concerns with those officers as needed. In addition to our four full-time youth officers, the department will increase their presence at schools across the city during the first days of school to ensure a smooth and safe process for all children and school faculty. There will also be increased presence by the Special Enforcement Unit Motorcycle Division in area school zones, cross walks, and bus routes to crack down on vehicle violations. People who speed in school zones, disobey crossing guards, or pass school buses will be cited accordingly.
H.A.W.K. Traffic Signal at Dover High School
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDot) installed the new High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK system at the Dover High School main entrance/exit prior to the 2014-2015 school year. This system is designed to maximize the flow of traffic in what is expected to be a congested area before and after school. A video showing how the light works can be viewed below.
Tips for Motorists
The Dover Police Department will utilize special enforcement units to increase presence in school zones and on bus routes throughout the city to target speed violations, passing of school buses, and other driving violations that threaten the safety of school children. The beginning of school is also a time when children are at increased risk of transportation related injuries from pedestrian, bicycle, school bus, and motor vehicle crashes because there are many more children on the road each morning and afternoon and many drivers’ patterns change. Shorter daylight hours make it especially difficult to see young pedestrians and bicyclists. So as schools open their doors, it’s time for everyone – motorists, parents, educators, and students – to improve their traffic safety practices. The following tips can help make this a safe and happy school year for the whole community.
School Bus Safety:
- It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus while its lights are flashing and its stop arm is extended.
- On undivided roadways, with no physical barrier or median, vehicles must stop on both sides of the roadway.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists approaching from either direction must wait until the red lights stop flashing before proceeding.
- Learn and obey the “alternately flashing warning light” system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists.
School Zone/Bus Stop Safety:
- When a school bus or children are present slow down and proceed with caution, obeying all traffic laws and speed limits.
- Obey School Zone speed limits & watch for flashing yellow lights, crossing guards, etc.
- Be alert and ready to stop. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops. Watch for children arriving late for the bus, who may dart into the street without looking for traffic. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or biking to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods or school zones, watch for young people who may be in a hurry to get to school and may not be thinking about getting there safely.
Walk/Bike to School:
- Practice taking the route your child will walk before school.
- Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
- Know the “rules of the road.”
- Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
- Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school. In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
- If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
- Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
Back to School Traffic Safety Tips are from the National Safety Council:
If You’re Dropping Off
Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. The Dover Police Department has full-time officers dedicated to the Central Middle School, Dover High School, and Parkway Academy with another officer that spends time in William Henry Middle School and the various elementary schools throughout the city.
When Your Child Is Bullied
- Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
1. Look the bully in the eye.
2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
3. Walk away.
- Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.
1. “I don’t like what you are doing.”
2. “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
3. “Why would you say that?”
- Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted adult for help.
- Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
- Support activities that interest your child.
- Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
- Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
- Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.
When Your Child Is the Bully
- Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
- Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
- Be a positive role mode. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
- Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
- Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied.
When Your Child Is a Bystander
- Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
- Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
- Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
- Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
- Keep Your Cell Phone Off
Multiple studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk―that’s even when using a hands-free phone. Besides, your state may prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. Many do for drivers of certain ages.
- Don’t Text
Research shows texting―on average―causes a loss of focus on the road for five seconds. A lot can go wrong in those five seconds. Don’t try the “texting-while-stopped” approach, either. And, when you have your head down, you won’t notice key developments that may occur, even when you’re stuck at a red light.
- Turn on Your Headlights
Doing so can increase your visibility and help other drivers see you, even on sunny days.
- Obey the Speed Limit
Speeding causes about 40% of all fatal teen accidents. That’s especially true when driving on roads with lots of traffic or you’re not familiar with. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with traffic if it seems like everyone else is flying by you. Driving a safe speed helps ensure your well-being, and keeps you away from costly traffic tickets that can cause a sharp hike in your car insurance.
- Minimize Distractions
It may be tempting to eat, drink, flip around the radio dial, or play music loudly while you’re cruising around town; however, all can cause your mind or vision to wander, even for a few seconds. And, that can be enough for an inexperienced driver to lose control of your car, or not notice an obstacle in the road.
- Drive Solo
Having a single teen passenger in your car can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers causes the risk to escalate.
- Practice Defensive Driving
Always be aware of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you, and have possible escape routes in mind. Stay a safe distance behind the car in front of you in slower speeds, and maintain a larger buffer zone with faster speeds. A good way to judge a proper distance is to count 2 seconds from the time the front of your car passes where the rear of the car in front of you passed