CFB Encourages Walkers, Drivers to Follow School Zone Safety Tips

This week, due to low visibility caused by heavy rain and a dark sky, there were two separate incidents on Wednesday morning involving McLaughlin Strickland Elementary students being struck by moving vehicles as they were crossing Fyke Road. The drivers of the vehicles were following the area’s set school zone speed limits and remained on site for police to arrive. Currently, the student's injuries are not life-threatening.

CFBISD is working with the cities of Farmers Branch and Carrollton to review crosswalk protocols and address visibility issues at this intersection. These incidents are a reminder for students, staff, parents, and the community to follow and be mindful of safety procedures before and after school as students enter and leave the campus.

“We know these incidents were scary for both our students and the drivers involved in the accidents and are thankful that no one sustain life-threatening injuries,” Superintendent Dr. John Chapman said. “As always, safety is essential and our top priority for students. Moving forward, we appreciate everyone’s assistance and help in ensuring the safety of all our children.”

Crosswalks are under the jurisdiction and control of the cities that serve CFBISD families. CFBISD is partnering with city officials across the district to determine if additional safety equipment and lighting devices should be added to assist in illuminating crosswalk areas.

“The district is not only reviewing the particular intersection of the recent incidents but is also working with city officials to review crosswalk protocols for crossing guards districtwide,” said Mario De La Rosa, CFBISD Director of Safety and Security. “In addition to the district reviewing protocols, we encourage parents to speak to and practice with their children about how to get to and from school safely including picking a safe route that avoids dangerous intersections.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, despite much lower traffic levels around Texas schools due to the pandemic, in 2020, there were 400 vehicle crashes in school zones resulting in 11 serious injuries. In 2019, there were 765 traffic crashes in Texas school zones resulting in one death and 15 serious injuries. The most common causes for these crashes were failure to control speed, driver inattention, and failure to yield the right of way when turning left onto a private drive or at a stop sign.

Advice for young pedestrians includes:

  • Cross only at designated crosswalks
  • Cross only at an intersection if a crosswalk is not available
  • Stay alert to your surroundings while walking
  • Walk on sidewalks
  • Look completely left, right, and left again before crossing the street
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street
  • Wave to drivers to make yourself visible when crossing the street
  • Pause at driveways and check to see if a car is pulling out
  • Wear bright-colored clothes so you are seen by drivers better
  • If walking in the dark, wear reflective clothes or put reflective stickers on backpacks and backpack straps and carry a flashlight
  • Walk through residential neighborhoods, when possible, rather than large, busy streets
  • Take earbuds and headphones off your ears while walking. Listening to music, podcast, etc. can keep you from hearing what is happening around you
  • Heads up, phone and electronic devices down
  • Don’t run between vehicles
  • Obey crossing guards, traffic signs, and signals
  • Never attempt to cross a multi-lane highway
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle
  • Walk with an adult when possible
  • Walk with friends in pairs or groups when possible
  • Stick to your parent’s approved route, even if friends want to take a shortcut

Drivers should also take precautions in and around school zones and through neighborhoods as children walk to and from school. Advice for drivers includes:

  • Stay alert
  • Watch for children who might run between vehicles
  • Be mindful of children at bus stops
  • Put away your cellphone and any handheld electronic device
  • Slow down, avoid speeding
  • Obey school zone speed limit signs and all traffic rules
  • Avoid distractions such as eating and putting on makeup
  • Drive safely around school buses and keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops
  • Drop off and pick up children in the designated areas

“Additionally, it is important for parents to speak with their teen drivers about driving cautiously and being aware of their surroundings,” De La Rosa said. “Teen drivers typically have more accidents than other drivers due to inexperience. All drivers should avoid speeding, especially in school zones, and avoid distractions. A slower driving speed and extra awareness might save a life.”

Parents are also encouraged to speak with their children about safety tips for encounters with strangers.

“Unfortunately, students need to be mindful of not only traffic but also strangers while walking,” De La Rosa said.

Advice for young pedestrians and parents in regard to strangers includes:

  • Avoid clothing or gear that has your child’s name visibly displayed so that strangers can’t use that information to approach or engage children in conversation
  • Never leave school with a stranger, hitchhike, or take rides not previously arranged by parents
  • If strangers offer a ride, say “no”.
  • Stay away from unknown cars and people
  • If being followed by someone in a car or on foot, get away as quickly as possible, run in the other direction, and yell for help
  • Report suspicious behavior or strangers on campus, in a public restroom, or playground to a campus administrator or to another trusted adult
  • When arriving home alone, lock doors, call a parent to check in, and never open the door for a stranger
  • Do not share with others that children are home alone after school

“If everyone works together, I believe we can keep our students safe,” De La Rosa said. “We encourage parents and students to let us know of any safety concerns, questions, or suggestions they may have.”