Watch for scholars

There are those kids again, walking on the sidewalks, standing on the corners, and running across the streets. It can only mean two things: The regular school year is back in session in Washoe County, or there’s gang activity at the mall.

All around the Truckee Meadows, children are getting the hang of getting themselves to school on foot, bikes and skateboards. It takes some practice to regain those good habits of looking both ways before crossing the street and staying in crosswalks (in some cases, ill-defined crosswalks). Motorists need to be extra vigilant during this time of year and cut children some slack.

Some kids get a ride to school from parents and, at many schools, drop-off and pick-up points are the most dangerous places for children. As a parent or school employee, checking out these points can help identify potential problems. The AAA automobile group will even assist school administrators make these spots safer for children and less lawsuit-y for schools. Call (800) 637-2122 for more information about this program.

AAA’s Web site also offers drop-zone safety tips for parents, www.csaa.com/global/articledetail/0,,1008080200%257c5404,00.html:

· Don’t make your kids cross the street in a dangerous way just because it’s more convenient for you. Many children are hurt this way.

· Drop children off on the school side of the street.

· Never double park, and don’t let your child out of a vehicle that is not next to the curb. This forces kids to weave between cars, which is dangerous.

· Follow your school’s traffic pattern for drop-off and pick-up. If your school doesn’t have a plan, contact school officials and suggest that one be developed.

· Reduce your speed when you enter a school zone and when children are walking or biking along the road.

· Use a “valet” at drop-off: Cars pull up and a “valet” (school staff, parent volunteers or school safety patrollers) open the door to help with drop-off. Drivers aren’t permitted to leave the vehicle and must move on after the door is shut.

· Train your child to look all ways (left and right, behind and front) and then to walk cautiously when crossing a street.

· Make sure all children wear seat belts and are in appropriate child safety seats or booster seats when riding in a car.

For those parents who are taking children to school for the first time, or those who need a refresher, AAA also offers a 32-point guide to safety to and from school at www.csaa.com/global/articledetail/0,1398,1008080200%257C5370,00.html.

It’s not just children who need a bit of extra awareness; the University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College are back in session. Remember that pedestrians in the crosswalks have the right of way, and failure to yield can result in injuries to pedestrians and fines for unfocused drivers.