Back-to-school: how to keep students safe in school zones

Local News

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — It’s that time of year, that many parents get excited for but kids usually dread. It’s back-to-school time for many students in the Wiregrass.

According to Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza, drivers need to slow down, be cautious, and obey all traffic laws. He said by practicing these procedures, drivers will help keep everyone on the roads safe.

Valenza said drivers can expect more traffic on the roads, especially as parents and students find the best plans and routes for their trip to school. He said drivers should be courteous through any school zones. Many school districts typically have officers and school personnel onsight assisting drivers making sure they are stopping and going at the proper speed during school hours.

“We will have a lot of chaos to start with,” Valenza said. “We will have school crossings, the best thing is to obey the law, don’t be in a hurry, and leave early.”

Valenza said it is necessary to stop when crossing guards are requesting and it is especially important to stop when busses are loading and unloading children.

According to Steve Dasinger, the Transportation Supervisor for Houston County Schools, every year their bus drivers take a survey where they write down the number of cars that pass them and other traffic violations they encounter.

“Slow down, be cautious,” Dasinger said. “When that stop sign is out please stop. These busses are the safest things on the road but the most danger is when kids are loading and unloading please stop, don’t run past the bus.”

Valenza also wants to remind parents to follow all drop-off and pick-up procedures. He said school systems have them in place in order to keep students, teachers, and drivers safe.

“They’re excited about school, or some are not excited,” Valenza said. “We try to get them across the crosswalk safely. Sometimes it is a little issue, we have to keep them close together, stop when they tell you to stop.”

Sheriff Valenza tells WDHN patience is key. He wants drivers to understand that roadways will be a little busier these coming weeks due to school being back in session. This is why he encourages everyone to just take a second to look both ways, slow down, and stop when needed.

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