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Police targeting school zones for safety next week


The City of Petaluma Police Department and the Traffic Engineering Department will be conducting the “Safe Routes to School Traffic Safety Operation” during the first week of the 2014/2015 school year beginning Tuesday, August 19, 2014 for the Waugh School District and Petaluma City Schools. All other schools in the Old Adobe School District and St. Vincent DePaul campuses start on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

The operation will deploy additional police officers, community service officers, and volunteers in and around school zones within the City of Petaluma. The purpose of this operation is to increase the level of traffic safety in and around the school zones through maximum traffic enforcement of hazardous traffic violations and through an aggressive education campaign to educate students and parents of the importance of traffic safety.

This is the 17th year of the Safe Routes to School operation, which creates safe routes for everyone to get to and from school. “We respectfully ask parents, school faculty, and students to walk, ride, drive, and park like they are doing the same in their own neighborhood for the safety of our children in school zones,” said Police Lieutenant Tim Lyons.

Patrol and Traffic officers will be conducting high visibility patrols around school zones to improve safety. The Safe Routes to School Traffic Safety Plan is a collaborative effort between law enforcement, traffic engineering, schools, parents, and students to create safe routes to and from our local schools.

The “Safe Routes to School Plan” was revised by the Traffic Engineering Department and the Police Department in 2005. Parents and students can reference the plan at the following web address to identify the safest routes to and from a school:

http://www.w-trans.com/projects/p-traffic-safety/PET906.html http://cityofpetaluma.net/pubworks/pdf/safe-routes-to-school.pdf

The increased deployment of officers in marked patrol cars will be used to enforce traffic laws for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians in and around the school zones.

Additional information regarding bicycle safety can be found at the DMV website at the following address:

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/about/bicycle.htm

To promote safe bicycle operation, the Petaluma Police Department will be giving away free bicycle helmets to anyone under the age of 18 at the Petaluma Police Department, 969 Petaluma Blvd North. There should be no excuse for students or parents of students riding without a helmet this year. Officers will be paying close attention to bicycle riders and there will be zero tolerance for anyone under 18 riding without a helmet. The Police Department also offers a free bicycle guide for Petaluma and Sonoma County. Booklets can be picked up at the Police Department.

Pedestrian Safety remains a high priority with students going back to school. During the beginning of the school year, pedestrian stings will be conducted at selected school crosswalks with a history of vehicle pedestrian collisions. Motorists are reminded to look ahead and be prepared to stop for school crossings.

This focus on traffic safety in and around the school zones will continue during the school year. Students and motorists are encouraged to drive safely, being responsible and defensive drivers, as officers will be issuing citations for all hazardous violations observed. The Police Department’s goal through the “Safe Routes to School Operation” is to create a safer environment for our children and all motorists as they travel to and from school and throughout the City.

The following are reminders for motorists:

• Distracted driving, riding, or walking, is extremely dangerous – no talking or texting on cell phones. Speaker phone is not legal, must be hands free. Do not cover both ears with ear buds or headphones while driving.

• Give yourself plenty of time and leave early so you are not in a hurry to get to where you are going. • School Zone Speed Limit is 25MPH when children are present.

• Watch out for others, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and stopped vehicles. The stopped vehicle may be letting a pedestrian cross the street.

• Remember to stop in both directions for a school bus that has activated the flashing red lights, except on a divided highway or a multiple lane highway. A multiple lane highway is highway that has two or more lanes of travel in each direction. (Minimum Fine = $600)

• Reduce your speed in adverse weather conditions and turn on your lights. These conditions include fog, direct sunlight, and rain.

• Double parking to drop off or pick-up is not only unsafe, but illegal.

• Most schools have traffic circulation/flow patterns mapped out. Parents are encouraged to contact school administrators and learn how they can follow established traffic patterns to keep the children safe.

• Bicycles always ride on the right side of the roadway and obey all traffic signs and signals.

• Remember to walk your bicycle across the street if you are using a marked crosswalk.

• Helmet laws will be strictly enforced for anyone riding under the age of 18.

• Do not block driveways, fire hydrants, crosswalks, or handicap access ramps at corners.

• Be considerate and respectful of the residents in the neighborhood.

Members of the community who identify traffic hazards or other hazardous traffic situations near school zones are encouraged to contact the Traffic Team at 776-3775.