Highway patrol reminds drivers, pedestrians of safety guidelines with kids back in school

Schools in Merced are back in session, and with back-to-school season comes the inescapable early morning traffic congestion.

To avoid accidents and traffic violations, law enforcement and school officials are reminding motorists and pedestrians to practice safe traffic protocols near school zones.

Officer Moises Onsurez, a CHP spokesman, asks motorists to be vigilant and be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicycles. Slowing down when nearing a school zone is especially important, as it is not uncommon for young children to run onto roadways, he said.

“We would encourage drivers traveling through a school zone not to text and to not be distracted by what’s going on inside the vehicle,” he said.

He also suggests that parents take extra time and leave the house early to avoid overcrowding at drop-off zones. California Highway Patrol officials also discourage parents from dropping off children on roadways. Parents should always drop off students at designated areas, Onsurez said.

As for pedestrians, CHP officials recommend that they use crosswalks, with crossing guards when available, and to avoid being distracted by headphones, cellphones or other electronics.

Merced police will patrol areas around schools in the city, and the California Highway Patrol will be in charge of traffic near schools in unincorporated areas of the county, such as Planada, McSwain, LeGrand and Franklin, Onsurez said.

Nathan Quevedo with the Merced County Office of Education also notes that traffic safety is an important issue.

“It’s a very busy time of the year,” he said. “People are getting adjusted to a new school or a new grade, so there are people getting set in a new routine. We ask for people to drive much slower now that schools are in session.”

Besides planning ahead for traffic, Quevedo asks parents to keep a couple of things in mind this back-to-school season: adjusting their children’s sleep schedule so they get enough rest, and having their children eat a healthy breakfast to ensure they are ready to learn.