Cameron Smyth | Heads Up: Back to School Safety Tips

Santa Clarita Councilman Cameron Smyth
Santa Clarita Councilman Cameron Smyth

It’s that time again! Summer break is in the rear-view mirror and school is back in session. With the start of a new school year there will be more students walking, riding and getting dropped off at school, making it more important than ever to be a Heads Up driver.  

Our Traffic Safety team tends to see a large uptick in traffic violations and safety concerns around school drop-off time, so remember to be vigilant and aware to keep all of our residents safe. 

No one wants to be late for school, but lay off the pedal — speeding is one of the biggest safety concerns in school zones. You never know when a child may suddenly dart into the road, and slower speeds allow for better reaction time.  

You may have seen a unique speedometer that shows a frown or happy face depending on your speed on North Garnet Canyon Drive near Mountainview Elementary School. This is what is known as a Full-Matrix Speed Feedback Radar Sign. The main goal is to try and get it to smile at you by driving the speed limit.  

When you go too fast, you’ll see a frown face, urging you to slow down. This speedometer not only lets you know if you are speeding, but it also collects data pertaining to vehicle speed and volume, allowing staff to make sound decisions regarding safety on city streets. Attached to this machine is a QR code that takes you directly to a website, which provides further details as to the function and purpose of the radar.  

Keep an eye out for other traffic data collection devices across the city with QR codes and scan them to learn more about what they do! 

Another area of concern that staff analyzes during the back-to-school season is crosswalks being blocked by traffic. Crosswalks serve as a vital way for students to navigate the streets safely to school. Blocking these designated pedestrian paths not only hinders their ability to cross, but also creates potentially dangerous situations, forcing them to find a way around and often putting them in the path of moving traffic. There have been many reports of illegal U-turns in the middle of crosswalks, blocking the area for students to walk. Let’s keep those crosswalks clear to ensure a safe and secure path to school! 

Even if your children are running late to school, always make sure to wait to let them out at the designated drop-off area. Letting your kids out in the middle of the street puts them in danger. It only takes one distracted driver to cause a life-changing accident, so keep your children safe by dropping them off in the correct area. This also goes for parking in red zones or in front of fire hydrants. Not only does this back up traffic, it also takes up the space needed for public safety vehicles in the event of an emergency. 

There are also a lot of older students who ride their bikes to school. The most important tip for our student cyclists is to make sure they can be seen by drivers. By trying to ride in groups, wearing bright colors and making sure your bike is fully equipped with the proper lights and reflectors, it will be easier for drivers to spot you while crossing streets and driveways. And of course – always wear a helmet! 

Even though summer break is over, going back to school is meant to be an exciting time for students. This season requires a collective effort to ensure the safety of our children, and by obeying traffic signs and the rules of the road, drivers can contribute to a safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Let’s remember that the key to a safe and successful back-to-school season lies in our commitment to remaining Heads Up and prioritizing the safety of all. 

Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected] 

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