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SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Police Department, in partnership with the Springfield Public Schools and First Student, wishes to remind drivers to be aware of the presence of students, crossing guards and school buses as students return to school in Springfield on Monday, Aug. 30.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, 25 crossing guards in Massachusetts were struck by vehicles between 2012-2016. Two of these incidents were fatal. In Springfield, a crossing guard was struck and killed during the first week of school in 2018.

Motorists are reminded to watch out for and obey the directions of crossing guards so that students can cross the street safely. The department is asking drivers to follow three simple steps: put down your phone, slow down and pay attention.

Come Monday, school buses will be back on the road as well. Motorists are reminded that flashing yellow lights on a school bus mean slow down, don’t speed up. When the red lights are flashing, drivers on an undivided road must stop in both directions. Motorists should never pass a bus if it is stopped to load or unload children.

“As students return to school on Monday, we are reminding all drivers to stay alert, slow down and recognize that there will be buses, students and crossing guards around the city once again,” said Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood. “We all have a common goal, which is getting your children and loved ones home safe at the end of each school day, and our Traffic Unit will be working to keep everyone safe by enforcing traffic violations in crosswalks, school zones and around school buses. On behalf of the Springfield Police Department, I wish all of Springfield’s students and educators a happy and safe return to school.”

Drivers are also reminded to never block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, not to honk or rev their engine to scare a pedestrian, to never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians and to proceed slowly and provide ample space when passing a cyclist. When driving around buses, allow a greater following distance and stop far enough back to allow children space to safely enter and exit the bus.

“Our crossing guards perform a vital task in the name of student safety and we are extremely appreciative and keenly aware of the critical role they serve,” said Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick. “Unfortunately, oftentimes they find themselves in the middle of traffic with drivers who are distracted, non-abiding or short on patience. Our hope is that this reminder will stick with drivers as the school year gets underway and all year long. We need motorists to stay alert. The safety of our students and crossing guards depends on it.”

“As we welcome our students, staff and families back to school it is important for everyone to take notice and not drive distracted. I echo Commissioners Clapprood’s call for drivers to stay alert and recognize that our buses, students and crossing guards will be out starting Monday, August 30th,” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said. “Our brave and dedicated men and women in blue will be out there to keep everyone safe and sound, especially our children, families and staff, to make sure that everyone gets to and from school safe and sound. Please pay attention to the road and please slow down and stop for our buses when you see the red lights flashing and for our crossing guards. Our buses and crossing guards are caring for our precious and beloved children, please respect that and let them safely do their jobs.”

The Springfield Police Department would also like to provide the following safety tips, courtesy the National Safety Council (NSC), for students and parents to safely get to school:

Walking to school:

  • Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic
  • Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk. Never cross the street while using an electronic device. Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street.

Riding a bike to school:

  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in single file
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted riding
  • Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing

Riding the bus to school:

  • Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus
  • Teach your children to stand six feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb
  • If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other