End of summer means start of school year

Heads up: School begins this Tuesday for more than 9,000 youngsters on the Kenai Peninsula. 

For families with school-aged children, it means a return to the daily hustle and bustle of getting here, there and everywhere kids need to be. For the rest of us, it means it’s time to pay some extra attention out on the Peninsula’s roadways.

Crosswalk zones, especially around schools, are about to get busy again, during the morning rush to school and the afternoon rush to get home. School buses will begin making their rounds through our neighborhoods and youngsters of all ages will be on our highways, streets and curbs.

This is a reminder that the end of summer vacation means traffic safety takes on new importance, and a new dimension, as children, especially the youngest ones, might be a little too exuberant too get to school, and might forget to look both ways before rushing across the street.

Drivers, slow down around school zones. Put down the cell phones. Pay special attention when driving to work for youngsters along the roadsides.

When following a school bus, watch for and expect stops, especially in neighborhoods. The flashing red lights and retracting stop sign on the left side of the bus are legitimate traffic signals — they mean “Stop.” Ignoring them is a moving violation.

Parents, make sure your young ones know basic safety rules: stay within designated pedestrian road crossings when available, walk against the traffic direction, keep your head up and be aware. Stay in groups, if possible.

The start of the school also means that many folks will be out and about for the last hurrah of summer — or perhaps the first hurrah of fall. Alaska State Troopers have ramped up patrols through the Labor Day weekend, and it’s a good time for a reminder that just because the summer’s flood of traffic has subsided, drivers still should exercise caution. 

Likewise, if you’re headed out into the wilderness or onto the water, continue to observe safety precautions. File a trip plan. Restock any items you’ve used out of your first-aid kit this summer. Make sure safety equipment is still functioning properly. Start dressing for cooler weather, and remember, this is the time of year when it starts getting dark.

We hope you’ve had a fun, exciting, relaxing summer. Enjoy summer’s last hurrah, and here’s to a safe start to a new season and new school year.

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