Watch out for that child.
We hear this advice daily as we live around young children.
We also hear it this time of year as students prepare to go back to school.
Starting Wednesday, Victoria public schools will be in session. Other public and private schools will also be starting classes this month.
This means literally thousands of children from age 4 to 18 will be traveling to school daily. Some will walk or ride their bicycles. Others will be dropped off by parents and still others will ride the bus. In the high school area, some of the motorists will be students.
We as drivers must be on the lookout for children of all ages as we make our way through school zones to get to work or run errands. We must also look out for the children in the area before the school zones begin.
In the Crossroads we are fortunate that most schools are built in residential neighborhoods where students can walk or ride their bikes to school. With that good fortune also comes the need for students to cross the busy street to get to campus or to walk along streets that do not have sidewalks.
We as motorists must watch out for all the children moving around in the mornings and afternoons. We must put down the cellphone and pay attention to our surroundings.
Remember, it is illegal to use a cellphone or other wireless communication devices in a posted school zone. If caught using the device, you could face a fine starting at $330, according to the fine schedule in Victoria Municipal Court.
We must use our peripheral vision to be on the lookout for children.
We must pay attention — as we always should — when driving.
We must be patient and courteous to other drivers.
You will know when you are approaching a school zone by the warning signs you will encounter. Begin to slow down when you see that first warning sign, then continue to slow to the posted speed, usually 20 mph. Most school zones are set off with large signs with flashing lights telling motorists they are in the school zone.
Traffic around the schools will be hectic the first week of school as parents drop off their children, instead of letting them walk or ride the bus. If you are one of these parents, remember to get to the campus early because there will be a long line of parents with the same mission as you — getting their child to school safely and on time.
Also, expect long lines in the afternoon when school dismisses. The same parents who were in line in the morning will be there in the afternoon.
Motorists must observe the zones when the lights are flashing or when students are present. The restricted speed is in effect at set times before school starts and after it dismisses for the day.
Law enforcement will be present to make sure motorists follow the rules but most importantly they are present to make sure all the students get to campus safely.
Speeding in a school zone is a serious offense. It is punishable by a fine starting at $305. Failing to stop for a school bus loading or unloading is punishable by a fine of $810, according to the mu
Another important law to obey is to stop for school buses loading and unloading students. Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of $810, according to the municipal court fine schedule. The fines can increase depending on the facts of the case.
If you are running late in dropping off your child or the carpool, relax, follow the posted speed limit and get everyone to their destination safely.
We all know how hectic mornings can be as we work to get our children ready for school as well as get ourselves ready for work. We know it can be done. We need to set a schedule and follow it, so we leave the house in plenty of time to drop off our child and then get to work, safely.
Slow down in school zones. Be watchful of students walking or riding bicycles in the neighborhood on their way to school. Watch for buses stopping to pick up students and then unloading them at campuses.
We all want all the children to be safe. We can do our part by following the school safety laws.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.