The Subject: “Back to School”

Now that school is soon to be back in session, drivers need to practice their ABC’s of traffic safety. The Wolf Point Police Department reminds drivers that attention is needed on the part of everyone in the community to ensure the safety of the students.

Three main themes to remember as students go back to school are “Be ALERT,” “Give Them A BRAKE” and “Drop Off CURBSIDE.”

Drivers are asked to be cognizant of high-traffic areas during the times — both morning and afternoon — when students are going to and from school. The WPPD is asking drivers to choose an alternate route and avoid these areas, if possible.

There are two major areas of concern — Fourth Avenue North near Northside School and the 400 block of Dawson Street near Southside School, Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada noted, although extra care should be taken on all streets adjacent to schools.

Parents are reminded that double-parking while waiting to pick up students is a “huge safety concern” and creates a hindrance to traffic, said Harada. Increased patrols will be done in the problem areas around the schools and citations will be issued to offenders as has been done in past years.

The 400 block of Dawson Street has often been a problem in previous years and Harada said that they are anticipating the same problems with parents double-parking and holding up traffic as they have in the past.

Traveling too fast in areas near schools is also very dangerous, since students often can not be seen between vehicles due to their shorter height and could easily be hit by a passing vehicle.

Speed limits in school zones are 15 miles per hour “year round!” and extend for one block on all sides of each school, noted Harada. Drivers who have been stopped for speeding in school zones often use the excuse that the speed limit was in effect only when school was going. This is not the case, Harada said.

Harada noted that Sixth Avenue South near the high school was a particularly bad area for drivers failing to slow down in the school zone. The 500 block of Main Street is also a school zone and drivers need to slow down and be cognizant of pedestrians in the area.

Students come and go from school facilities throughout the day and drivers need to always be watchful and extra careful in the areas surrounding schools, especially those just outside the school zones.

Parents should stress the importance of students using crosswalks when crossing the streets and also looking both directions for oncoming traffic. Students should also be encouraged to walk behind the vehicle, rather than in front, since there is usually a greater likelihood that oncoming drivers will see them.

Drivers are also required to yield to students on crosswalks. These students are practicing their safety skills and it is the responsibility of the driving public to practice theirs, as well.
Harada noted that the First Presbyterian Church parking lot, located on the north side of Southside School, is a great alternative to dropping students off on the streets.

Dropping students off curbside adjacent to the schools — eliminating the need to cross the street is another way to ensure the students’ safety.

Bus safety is another concern every year, noted Harada. Drivers are reminded that it is against the law to pass a bus when its lights and stop sign are displayed.

Drivers need to be observant and follow the directives of the teachers and other school staff who serve as crossing guards at high-traffic times near the schools.

Sixth Avenue North is a popular cross country practice route and care should be used when passing the student-athletes on that street.

Students and all other pedestrian traffic should remember that it is not safe to cross the Sixth Avenue railroad tracks while the arms are down, even if the train is stopped just past the crossing. It could just be pulled off on the siding, waiting for another train to pass.

Students and their parents are also reminded that the family dog should be secured at home so they can not follow the children to school. The Wolf Point Police Department’s animal control officer will actively be picking up dogs who are found on school grounds.