As families across Maryland prepare for the start of the school year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is partnering with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to remind drivers, parents, and students about road and pedestrian safety. After a year of virtual classrooms and offices, drivers should expect to see more pedestrians and drivers on the road as approximately 400,000 students return to public schools throughout the State this fall.
“Mornings and afternoons are going to look different in a few days for both motorists and students as schools reopen for the 2021-2022 school year,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “We must all do our part to ensure students arrive to school and home safely. Motorists need to stay alert and obey the speed limit especially around school zones to protect Maryland’s youngest pedestrians.”
“For the first time in 18 months, Maryland schools are opening for full-time in-person learning, and we urge drivers to stay vigilant for young pedestrians and school buses,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “As part of back to school preparations, we also encourage parents to review pedestrian safety practices with their children, stressing the importance of paying attention, using sidewalks and looking both ways before crossing.”
In addition to providing parents and students with road safety information, MDOT and MSDE collaborated with the Boys and Girls Club Maryland Alliance last month to equip students for success in the classroom by holding a statewide back-to-school supply drive. Collections were accepted at more than 60 locations and an online donation page was set up to accept monetary gifts that resulted in more than $3,300 in donations. The initiative collected and distributed more than 100 boxes of pencils, paper, glue sticks, and other items to students in need.
“What began as a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Maryland and the Maryland State Department of Education rallied support from state employees, local residents, and businesses to make generous donations that will provide students key tools to learn and grow in the classroom,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “The MDOT family is proud to promote safer travels to school and to help better prepare students to learn once they get there.”
Motorists are reminded to allow more time in the morning to get to work, look before backing out of their driveways, and drive slow in school zones and residential areas. Additional safety measures include:
- Always stopping for pedestrians.
- Obeying traffic signs, signals, and markings.
- Observing posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.
- Keeping your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/devise or text while driving.
- When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required by law to stop.
Parents are reminded to lead by example and urged to discuss pedestrian safety behaviors with their children, including the following:
- Using sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
- Pressing the pedestrian signal button and waiting for the walk signal.
- Always stopping at the curb and looking left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
- Watching for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
- Walking, not running across the street.
- Paying attention — taking off headphones while walking and no texting or playing games.