ST. CHARLES – With the school year now in full swing, the St. Charles Police Department has issued reminders to the community to be alert while driving so that children will be safe.
"The start of a new school year is always a good time to review traffic laws relating to the safety of our children in our neighborhoods and around our schools," according to a news release issued by the St. Charles Police Department. Among the areas of review:
• Cellphone use is prohibited while operating a vehicle, unless the driver is using a hands-free device.
• Drivers should watch for young children walking and riding their bikes, especially around schools and in residential areas. Care should be taken while backing out of driveways. Drivers should take the extra time to look over their shoulder to make sure a child isn’t behind their vehicle. They should come to a complete stop when approaching stop intersections around schools and give our kids a chance to cross safely.
• Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light, stop sign, or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation. Always stop when directed to do so by a school crossing guard.
• On a two-lane road, drivers must stop in either lane before meeting or overtaking a school bus loading or unloading passengers. The school bus driver will give a warning at least 100 feet in advance of a stop by flashing amber and red lights on the front and rear of the bus and the stop signal arm will be extended. Drivers must then come to a complete stop as well. Drivers may proceed when the school bus resumes motion or the bus driver signals them to do so. Drivers may also proceed when the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is no longer extended. When approaching a stopped school bus on a roadway having four or more lanes, a driver need not stop if approaching in an opposite lane of travel. In all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
• Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus usually are very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
"Please drive carefully around our schools, neighborhoods and bus stops," the release stated. "Our officers will be spending additional time patrolling in those areas to ensure compliance. Have a safe and happy school year!"