Back to School Safety

September means “Back to School” throughout New Jersey. As we say goodbye to summer and settle into our Fall routines, we want to help spread the word that now that school is back in session, you will see students, parents, and families walking and bicycling to and from school and we urge drivers to be cautious around these vulnerable road users.

Reminders for drivers.

Drivers should be aware of their surroundings, obey traffic signs and signals, and slow down! Things to keep in mind:

  • Check before starting your car: Always ensure there are no children behind your vehicle or about to cross on the sidewalk behind you before starting and moving your car. Continue to check as you reverse. Always pay attention when entering or exiting a driveway.
  • Pay attention to crossing guards and school zones: Look for signs that you are approaching or are in a school zone and be alert for crossing guards and children crossing the street. Obey the traffic signs.
  • Pay extra attention and look for young pedestrians wanting to cross the street: Drivers must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks and yield to pedestrians in unmarked crosswalks.
  • Be patient: Do not pass a school bus when it is stopped, and be aware that bus riders may be crossing the street.
  • Never block sidewalks or park on or near crosswalks: Approach intersections with caution: Always be aware of your surroundings and look for people crossing, especially when turning left or right at intersections.
  • Under the new Safe Passing Law, drivers must use “due caution” whenever they encounter people walking, bicycling, on scooters, in wheelchairs, etc. on the road. Drivers must move over a lane (if there’s one to move into). On a single-lane road, drivers must provide a distance of at least 4 feet to pass a vulnerable road user safety. If 4 feet is not possible, drivers must slow to 25 mph and be prepared to stop until they can pass safely without endangering those sharing the road.

Reminders for pedestrians.

All road users must obey traffic laws. Pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings and follow safe walking practices:

  • Remain alert when walking and crossing streets.
  • Pay attention to signs and always listen to crossing guards
  • Obey pedestrian signals; cross on the green light and with the pedestrian signal.
  • Do not walk in the roadway: Use sidewalks when available.
  • Look for vehicles in all directions at intersections and continue watching the traffic as you cross: Before crossing, understand the vehicle movements.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in driveways.

Reminders for Cyclists.

Bicycles are vehicles too, and bicyclists must obey the traffic rules as any other vehicle on the roadway must do. Set a good example:

  • Always ride on the right side of the road, with traffic.
  • Use hand signals to show your intentions and ride in a predictable fashion.
  • Stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks; Yield to pedestrians in unmarked crosswalks.
  • Look for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users before turning.
  • Do not pass vehicles or bicycles that have stopped to yield to a pedestrian.

We all have a role in making our streets safer for the most vulnerable users. Let’s all make safety a priority in our communities and help students arrive at school safe, healthy, and ready to learn each day by slowing down, being patient, and paying attention! Welcome back to school New Jersey!