Westport police step up enforcement as schools reopen

Children arrive for the first day of school at Coleytown Elementary School. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

Children arrive for the first day of school at Coleytown Elementary School. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

Scott Mullin / For Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTPORT — The Westport Police Department is cracking down on traffic violators in school zones with a “Back to School” enforcement and education campaign.

School resumes Aug. 31 in Westport, and the police department has issued a statement declaring that its officers will be on the lookout for drivers using cell phones and speeding in school zones and monitoring bus stops and routes, citing those that disregard school bus signals.

“The Westport Police Department is committed to protecting children from motorists who disregard the traffic safety laws, especially around school zones and bus stops where students congregate,” the release read. “We urge commuters to allow for extra time, as they will be sharing the roads with school buses making frequent stops, as well as children who will be walking and/or biking to school.”

The department urged motorists to remain vigilant around school zones, bus stops and school buses.

“Obey the school bus laws of Connecticut, which include slowing down and preparing to stop for yellow flashing school bus lights and stopping for red flashing school bus lights,” according to the release.

Here are some suggestions for drivers and children for staying safe in the new school year:

Drivers

  Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

  Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

↑ Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state.

  Learn the “flashing signal light system” used by school bus drivers to alert motorists of pending 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 on both sides of the roadway must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.

Children

  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.

  Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it is okay before stepping onto the bus.

  If you must cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.

  Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps are not caught in the handrails or doors.

  Never walk behind the bus.

  If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

  Follow instructions given by school crossing guards. Do not cross until they have stopped traffic completely and have advised it is safe to cross.