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Back To School Time

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It is hard to believe that a new school year is already upon us. This means a surge of children commuting to and from school this week. Back to school means much more than simply buying school supplies and buying food for sack lunches. It means that your children will suddenly be venturing out into the world alone and that they will be met with a whole new set of dangers. When you aren't there to watch over them, your mind can race with many concerns and you may worry about every little move they are making throughout the day.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, in 2009 children age 15 and younger accounted for seven percent of all pedestrian fatalities. Those children also accounted for twenty five percent of all pedestrian injuries. The leading cause of death for people ages 15-20 are motor vehicle accidents..

To put your mind at ease and promote safety, the St. Francis County Sheriff 's Office would like to offer these reminders which will hopefully keep everyone safe:

• If your child rides the bus to school, it is recommended that you walk your child to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus arrives. If possible, wait for your child at the bus stop after school and walk home with them even if your home is just a short distance away.

• It is recommended that you check the St. Francis County Sheriff 's Department website for the sex offender registry for your local area. This registry will let you know if any sex offenders live around your home or around your child's school. This information shouldn't make you paranoid, it should just make you more conscious of your surroundings and areas which you shouldn't let your children venture alone.

• It is amazing how many people this day and time do not teach their children about stranger danger. Educate your children so that they know to avoid strangers and to never let them pressure them into a car or house.

• If your child must walk to and from school because you simply cannot take them, make sure you map out a safe walking route for them. This route should include cross walks and should avoid alleyways and unsafe areas of your town.

• Always be alert. Expect stopped school busses picking up and dropping off children. Remember bus stop locations may change and may be in new unexpected areas. Also expect pedestrians in neighborhoods and roadways near school campuses. Drivers should scan between parked cars and other objects for children who could dart into traffic.

• Leave early for schools and other destinations. Drivers should consider modifying their routes to avoid school zones and traffic. Parents should only drop their kids off on the school campuses in the school 's designated areas. Kids should never be dropped off by the roadway or in neighborhoods adjoining the schools. Drivers should comply with law enforcement officers directing traffic near the schools and obey the posted speed limits.

• Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles a driver's chance of crashing. Adult drivers should limit cell phone usage in school zones. All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Teen drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone device while driving.

By being alert and working together we can enjoy a safe new school year!

Sheriff Bobby May

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