Safe Routes To School
Written by Anngela Wakan
Coordinator, SRTS & UmattR
A School Zone Safety message with Shaun Goodsell and Anngela Wakan. Featurning the HAWK Beacon at Mesa Verde Elementary on College Blvd.
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign addressing all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. August has been designated by the CHIC as the month to bring awareness to Safe Routes to School in New Mexico.
Farmington Walk and Roll is a local entity of the national, Safe Routes to School program, whose goal is to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children to walk and roll to school. With summer quickly coming to an end, traveling issues around schools can be a major area of concern for parents and care-givers. Here are a few quick tips to ensure the well-being of all our students in their daily travels.
Never park in designated red zones near cross-walks. Even if it is for a quick “minute” to let your child in/out of the car. This interferes with the visibility drivers and pedestrians need to ensure safe crossing.
There is a reason for the slow speed zones near schools. Most accidents are survivable at 15-20mph (95% survival), but the majority of pedestrian accidents are deadly at 40mph (15% survival).*
Always be respectful and aware of pedestrians who may be around your vehicle. It only takes a moment for an unfortunate accident to occur.
Parents of walkers and bikers, please review these tips for yourselves and children:
Choose routes that provide space to walk and have the least amount of traffic and lowest speeds.
Look for traffic at all driveways and intersections.
Always wait for the cross-guard to stop traffic, enter the road, and signal it is safe, before crossing.
It is important to look in front and behind to check for turning vehicles at intersections.
Wear reflective gear if it is dark or conditions limit visibility, such as rain or snow.
Talk with your child about what you’re doing and why as you walk.
It is recommended that children below the age of 10 walk with an adult or older sibling, who is more aware of how to handle situations that may arise.
In Farmington we have been able to use Safe Routes funding to install a new pedestrian activated signal on College Blvd called the HAWK. Its beacons are off until a pedestrian activates the button to cross. At that point the signal flashes yellow, indicating the need for drivers to prepare to stop, followed by a solid yellow, and then solid red. Drivers must stop, and pedestrians follow the given “walk” signal. When appropriate crossing time has occurred, the “don’t walk” signal flashes for pedestrians, as the vehicular beacons change to flashing red. This indicates the drivers must stop, but may proceed after yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk. When vehicle traffic is about to restart, the pedestrian signal states “don’t walk”, and the traffic beacon goes dark until activated by another pedestrian.
Remember walking and biking to and from school provides a great way for children to get the recommended amount of exercise needed to stay fit, while developing healthy habits to last a lifetime, and we want all of the children in the area to do so safely. Wednesday, October 7, 2015 is International Walk to School Day. More information can be found at www.farmingtonwalkandroll.org
[*Source: Limpert, Rudolph. Motor Vehicle Accident Reconstruction and Cause Analysis. Fourth Edition. Charlottesville, VA. The Michie Company, 1994, p. 663.]