have paired up with AAA to keep the streets safe as students return to school in Fairfield.
Two school buses have been put on display -- one at the Post Road rotary, the other on Black Rock Turnpike -- each with banners that read "School is Open, Drive Carefully" in an effort to get the message out.
According to AAA, 55 million children are heading back to school, and 13 percent of those kids walk or bike to school.
That's why police are going to be out on the roads, enforcing traffic laws and safety -- especially where students walk and bike to/from school and where they are dropped off and picked up.
"We just want a safe school year on the roads," Officer Paul Medvegy said.
Medvegy and and Officer Gary Wikman -- members of the department's traffic enforcement unit -- added that officers recently met with crossing guards to learn about the guards' concerns and complaints.
Guards told police that two major issues they face are cars driving too fast in school zones and not yielding to pedestrians in cross walks.
"We are going to take an active role and act on those complaints," Wikman said.
In the meantime, drivers, parents, and students should take note of the following traffic and safety tips supplied by the department to ensure a safe start to the school year.
- When backing out of a driveway, slow down and watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Drivers should not block a cross walk at any time.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch your speed by obeying the speed limit, and pay attention for school children who are walking or bicycling in these areas.
- Be alert -- children who are late for the bus may dart into the street without paying attention to traffic.
- Don't drive distracted. Make sure you try to eliminate distractions and you are fully paying attention to the road.
- When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, slow down, and leave at least a distance between you and the bicycle of no less than 3 feet. Maintain this clearance until you have safely passed the bicycle.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in Connecticut. Learn the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of impending actions.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- Follow school buses at a safe distance, they make frequent stops.
- You must stop in both directions when approaching a bus with red flashing lights.
- Traffic Enforcement officers will be monitoring school traffic to prevent pedestrian-related accidents.
- The State of Connecticut fine for passing a stopped school bus with red flashing lights, first offense is $465.
- Exercise caution particularly in the downtown Post Road area where a large number of children (from two middle schools and one high school) walk, shop and congregate after school.
- Pay particular attention to children walking where there are no sidewalks.
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb and line up away from the street. Also, wait for the bus to arrive before you approach it.
- Do not stand up inside the bus while it is in motion. You should be sitting at all times.
- Always wear a helmet when riding your bike to school, and follow traffic safety rules.
- If you walk to school, learn and practice the safety rules for pedestrians. It's extremely important that you use sidewalks if available, look left and right if you are crossing the road. Always use crosswalks, and obey all traffic signs, traffic signals, and crossing guard instructions.
- Try to walk with a family member, neighbors, and other students in large groups.
- Do not walk, run, or ride your bicycle down railroad tracks. It's illegal and dangerous.
- Provide your child with bright clothing so that motorists can see them.
- Teach your children to obey all traffic and pedestrian laws.
- Make sure you follow all Connecticut safety belt laws while you are transporting your children in your vehicle at all times.
- Help and advice your teen driver so that they understand and obey all traffic laws. Discourage them from texting or talking on their cell phones while driving.
- Find out your child's school's drop-off and pickup procedures and stick to them.
- Be sure your child walks to and from school with a sibling, friend or neighbor. Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
- If your child is young, and is walking to a new school, walk with them the first week so they can get used to the route.
- Make sure your child knows his or her phone number.
- Teach your child to never talk to strangers.