Children pick up on everything we do. From the way we drive our cars, the way we treat others, to our everyday behaviors — our kids are watching and taking cues for appropriate ways to act as they grow up. By looking inward, we can ensure we are teaching them valuable lessons they will carry forward in life.
With back-to-school season upon us, one oaf the most important opportunities to be a role model for our kids is when we are driving around Santa Clarita. We may not think too much about it, but how we drive and react to others on the road can determine the types of drivers our kids will be when they grow up. This means being a “Heads Up” driver at all times, especially when faced with the added stress and traffic that a new school year can bring.
As schools throughout Santa Clarita get back in session, please be sure to keep a few safe-driving tips in mind. This will help ensure that traffic through school zones flows smoothly while also reducing any risk of accidents.
Whether you have school-aged children who need to be dropped off or are driving to work, please remember that there will be more traffic on the roads, particularly around schools. Heads Up drivers know that driving safely means being able to “See and Be Seen.” This refers to our ability to scan for pedestrians and other drivers. When you anticipate their actions, you give yourself more time to react.
To “Be Seen,” give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, slow down and make your intentions clear to other drivers by using your turn signal so they can anticipate your movements.
When you are driving in a school zone – as well as near parks, Santa Clarita Public Library branches and the Newhall Community Center and Canyon Country Community Center – expect that there will be children nearby. This is especially the case in the after-school hours when kids are walking home or going to an enrichment program before their parents pick them up.
While we know to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, young kids may not always be paying attention to their surroundings. Be cautious, disconnect from distractions in your vehicle and wait until crosswalks are completely clear before making a turn.
If you and your child walk to school or ride bikes, now is also the time to reinforce safe behaviors. Remember to show your child how to look both ways before crossing the street and only cross at designated crosswalks. Make eye contact with drivers stopped at a crosswalk or intersection so that you know they see you.
It is also a good idea to remove distractions by putting away your phone and headphones because doing so will allow you to hear cars and emergency vehicles approaching. Where possible, choose to use the city’s pedestrian bridges and paseos to avoid vehicle traffic altogether.
Keeping our roads safe for all in Santa Clarita takes a communitywide effort to be “Heads Up.” Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists all share the responsibility when it comes to exhibiting safe behaviors, and we owe it to the next generation to instill those behaviors in them as well.
With the school year upon us, please take time to go over these safe behaviors as a family. Most importantly, go beyond the conversation and make sure these behaviors are put into practice each and every day. This way, we will not only have safe school zones – we will also have fewer collisions and injuries in Santa Clarita overall.
Please be sure to review the city’s award-winning Heads Up Traffic Safety campaign by visiting santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp. There you will find information and tips that can help you and your family be safe drivers, pedestrians or cyclists.
I hope everyone has a fantastic – and safe – school year!
Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].