Turlock Police have rolled out a comprehensive traffic safety plan to improve the safety of students travelling to and from local schools. The enhanced traffic safety plan was hatched after a meeting between Turlock Police, Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) officials including Dr. Sonny H. Da Marto and parent representatives of local schools.
Dr. Da Marto and Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton partnered on a message broadcast to TUSD parents back in December encouraging parents to drive cautiously on or around school sites, never sacrificing the safety of students for convenience. The broadcast included a number of safety tips for parents to remember while dropping off and picking up their children from school, in order to insure that all students will have a safe environment for a quality education.
Turlock Police recently began deploying message trailers at local school sites addressing traffic safety concerns specific to each school site. Police volunteers have also been deployed to provide guidance to parents on safe locations to drop off and pick up their children. The uniformed volunteers have taken to video taping the most egregious safety violations to get the attention of errant drivers.
Police and district officials are engaged in the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) movement can provide a variety of important benefits to children and their communities, including increasing physical activity, reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, and enhanced neighborhood safety.
Dr. Da Marto has said school sites need to be a safe environment for children beginning with traffic safety. “From the moment children are dropped off at school in the morning, until they are picked up at the end of the day, all parents need to encourage their children to make safe decisions, never crossing in the middle of the road or in front of cars and always using crosswalks. Children learn by example and what better example can we as adults set than to teach our children to always think safety first.”
Uniformed patrol officers have increased their patrols of local schools during the morning drop off and afternoon pick up periods engaging drivers who fail to heed reduced speed limits within school zones and yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Several students were injured in crosswalk related traffic collisions in 2009 while travelling to or from school.
Chief Hampton said that the police department is dedicated and committed to partnering with the school district to ensure the safety of students. “We have already seen the benefits of this partnership. A drop off and pick-up zone has been opened in front of Turlock High School which provides parents the ability to safely drop off their children. This was a major concern for officers who previously observed parents allowing children to exit their vehicles while stopped in traffic lanes at intersections.”