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Child-and-Mom-in-CrosswalkAccording to the Department of Public Health (DPH), pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children in Massachusetts. Additionally, three crossing guards have been fatally struck while on the job in the past seven years.

With the back-to-school season upon us, drivers and parents should be aware of how to keep children and crossing guards safe at crosswalks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and DPH provide information on how you can be a cautious driver around crosswalks and intersections and how to teach your children to be careful pedestrians.

Know Crosswalk Law

When driving near crosswalks, make sure you are following the rules of the road to avoid pedestrian crashes and fines.
•Stop at Crosswalks — Massachusetts law states that drivers must stop at a crosswalk if a pedestrian is walking on that half of the road or is within 10 feet of crossing that half of the road.
•Don’t Pass Other Vehicles — Drivers may not pass other vehicles that are stopped at a crosswalk to allow pedestrians to walk.
•Obey Speed Limits — The school zone speed limit is 20 miles per hour.

Drive Carefully Around Crosswalks

When driving in areas where crossing guards and children are present, follow these tips to protect pedestrians from harm.
•Be on the lookout for signs that you are near a crosswalk, including pedestrian crossing signs, crosswalks, hand-held stop paddles, and the reflective vests that crossing guards wear.
•Make sure you are following the speed limit, and slow down when approaching a crosswalk.
•Look out for pedestrians at all times, not just when you are near crosswalks. Check for children and crossing guards when you are near school zones, parks, playgrounds, and bus stops.
•Be aware that children and crossing guards may be blocked from view by buses or cars, so use caution around other vehicles.
•If you see a situation where crossing guards or pedestrians are exposed to traffic dangers, contact your local police department or school.

Teach Children How to Cross the Street Safely

Most child pedestrian injuries occur during the after-school hours. Make sure your children know these street-crossing tips, and be a good role model when you cross the street with them.
•Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street, even if you are at a crosswalk or if there is a “walk” signal.
•Try to establish eye contact with a driver who is approaching a crosswalk or entering/exiting a driveway — just because a vehicle is moving slowly does not necessarily mean the driver sees you.
•Make sure the driver stops before you begin to cross the street.
•Use crosswalks and follow walk signals.
•Walk — don’t run — across the street, and stay aware of your surroundings.
•Look for signs that a car is about to move, such as rear lights, the sound of the motor, and wheels turning, to prevent pedestrian crashes.
•Walk safely by staying on sidewalks when possible. If there are none, walk facing traffic.
•Wear retro-reflective or light-colored clothing when walking in the dark.

By following these tips while driving and teaching your children to be cautious pedestrians, you can help keep crossing guards and children out of harm’s way this school year.

Tell us how you teach your children pedestrian safety by commenting below or tweeting @MassGov.

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