Toledo police officers want pedestrians and motorists to exercise extra caution as the school year gets under way.
Principal Shaun Mitchell, center, greets students at the front door Thursday morning on the first day of classes at DeVeaux Elementary School in Toledo.
Sgt. Greg Mahlman said about 500 incoming kindergarten students in the Toledo area learned pedestrian safety through the department-sponsored Safe-T-City program this summer, and he’s hopeful they’ll carry that new knowledge with them throughout the school year.
“School safety starts before they leave their front door and doesn’t end until they get home,” he said.
Safe-T-City, a miniature city built next to the Scott Park District Station, features crosswalks and a railroad crossing as a teaching tool for students. Sgt. Mahlman teaches children catchy phrases and songs to reinforce safety lessons, such as “see and be seen” and “think five to stay alive.”
Both remind students how to safely cross the street.
“Don’t assume cars can see you,” he said. “If you’re at an intersection, make eye contact with that driver that’s stopped and make sure they see you crossing.”
“Think five to stay alive” reminds students to look left, then right, then over their shoulder, then straight ahead, and back to the left before crossing a road.
Administrative Sgt. Greg Mahlman speaks about back-to-school safety at Safe-T-City in Toledo on Thursday.
Always cross at a crosswalk or a corner, and pay attention to traffic signals, Sgt. Mahlman said.
Officers also want to remind community members to be on the lookout for more pedestrians and bicyclists with many districts already back in class. He reminded all motorists to stop for school buses on two-lane roads, and said traffic traveling the opposite direction of the bus does not have to stop on roads that have four or more lanes.
“A lot of accidents are happening real close to the school because there’s so much congestion and cars,” Sgt. Mahlman said.
He encouraged families to do a practice walk or bicycle ride to school so students feel safe and comfortable making the trek alone.
“Safety starts in the home,” he said. “If a kid is not old enough or competent enough to walk to school by themselves, then that’s the parents’ responsibility.”
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