Officials encourage safety, patience as Washington County students return to school

ST. GEORGE — Thousands of students flooded back to schools across Washington County as classes resumed early Monday morning.

Washington County School District Public Relations Director Steven Dunham said the new school year brings new traffic patterns and more traffic, adding that the district always encourages people to practice patience.

According to Dunham, there is a noticeable increase of cars on the road, which will die down as the school year progresses.

“Parents like to drive the first few days, they don’t like to carpool, they don’t like to send them on the bus,” he said. “They like to drive their kids those first few days and have those special moments.”

Extra cars on the road is not the only concern. With the start of school, more children will be walking and biking to school, as well. If students are walking, Dunham said he always encourages them to walk in groups. It’s much easier for a driver to see a group of kids than a single child, he said.

A school crosswalk, dubbed a “ladder to learning,” in St. George, Utah, Aug. 12, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

A group of children walking to school with one or more adults is referred to as a “walking school bus,” and areas with a larger group of children close to school might have already established groups that children can join. Dunham said walking school buses are a “good, safe way to get to school.”

Parents can also help relieve these increased risks by carpooling, which keeps the number of cars on the road to a minimum.

“We’re always concerned that somebody will be in too big of a hurry and there will be an incident or an accident.”

Dunham said parents should designate extra time in the mornings to account for the increased traffic, get to know the new traffic patterns and ensure the safety of students. People without children should also be aware of the surge in the number of vehicles and children on the roads and exercise patience during their morning commute.

“Kind of go with the flow for these first couple of days,” Dunham said.

A timer counts down at a school crosswalk in St. George, Utah, Aug. 12, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

The St. George Police Department has also published several social media posts to help remind drivers of the rules of the road when it comes to crosswalks.

At a regular crosswalk, one that does not have stripes, a driver can make their turn once the pedestrian is no longer on their side of the road. School crosswalks, however, are different and have been deemed the “ladders to learning” because of their ladder-like appearance. Drivers cannot cross these until pedestrians are outside of the crosswalk.

Those who drive through a school crosswalk with pedestrians inside of it can receive a citation for failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian, which carries a fine of no less than $100 and up to $500 on a first-time offense.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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