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Drivers urged to follow traffic safety tips as children head back to school

Updated September 19, 2014

You would never suspect from news media reports that the greatest threat to residents in Los Angeles County, both personally and financially, isn't violent or property crime. If you watch any television news channel at the top of the hour, on most days there will be a breaking news story that will frighten you into not wanting to leave your house.

But the truth is that in Cerritos, and probably in all of the other 88 cities in Los Angeles County, the most significant personal risk to you and your family is while driving your car on local streets and highways. Despite all of the attention given to shootings and robberies around the region – and in Cerritos this past year to residential burglary – the single most common public safety-related incident that befalls Cerritos residents is when cars collide with other cars, bicyclists or pedestrians. Cerritos averages approximately 200 residential burglaries annually, but between 800 to more than 1,000 reported traffic collisions. Living defensively is important in reducing our crime risk, but driving defensively is arguably even more important in reducing our risk of personal injury and even death.

It is with this reality in mind, and because September is back-to-school month, that it is important to heed school-related traffic safety tips. This month thousands of kids will be going back to the 19 schools in Cerritos, and most will be driven by mom or dad and dropped off as close to the front of the school as possible. We can engage in wishful thinking and complain about the fact that kids don't walk to school like in the old days, or that parents park illegally and let their kids cross streets in an unsafe manner or that the cops should patrol the schools more and issue more citations to irresponsible parents. But if we are parents, grandparents or caregivers responsible for transporting family members to and from school each day, the personal safety of those precious lives is ultimately our responsibility.

Below are some school safety tips provided by the National Safe Routes to School Program and the City of Cerritos Community Safety Division staff.

  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits. This may be the most important safety tip to observe around schools.
  • Comply with school drop-off and pick-up procedures. Many schools in Cerritos have student valet or parking lot transition programs and should be used if possible.
  • Avoid double parking and stopping in crosswalks or in people's driveways to let children out of the car. Do not allow children to cross the street mid-block, and teach them to use crosswalks. Cerritos Sheriff's deputies have been directed to issue citations for these violations when observed.
  • Stop for a school bus when red overhead lights are flashing or a stop sign has been activated on the street side of the bus. This is a very expensive citation that deputies will issue when such a violation is observed.
  • Watch for children crossing streets near schools or at nearby corners. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way when in marked or unmarked crosswalks. (Any intersection has an unmarked crosswalk unless a posted sign says otherwise.)
  • Watch for children on sidewalks when backing out or entering a driveway.
  • Pay attention to the directions of crossing guards, and take the time to thank them once in a while. There are 23 guards in Cerritos who put themselves at risk every day protecting our kids.

These tips are not complicated, but they can save lives. Heed them and let's help keep the children in Cerritos safe this year.

 

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