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Police beef up patrols for start of school year

Fire District also offers back-to-school safety tips for kids

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Back to School means one thing – kids, lot of them, and the driving public is reminded they need to be more aware of their surroundings in the coming days as the new year kicks off at area schools.

Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal noted increased enforcement by the Regional Traffic Team as it splits time between Martinez, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. Martinez has typically had a large presence of officers who focus on traffic enforcement to mark the start of the new school year.

Patience and being courteous of vehicles and pedestrians is being emphasized. To that end, motorists are encouraged to leave earlier as the roads will be more congested.

“The safety of our children is of the utmost importance and school drop off and pickup can be a very difficult and dangerous process,’’ said MPD Commander Eric Ghisletta.

“It is vital for all drivers to follow the rules of the road and adhere to the pickup/drop-off processes outlined by each individual school. Space around schools is limited and it is very important that vehicles are legally parked.’’

The police department receives several complaints each year about double parked vehicles blocking traffic in neighborhoods, speeding vehicles, stop sign violations around the schools and failure to follow sign requirements.

“The department will look to increase patrol around the schools and enforce traffic violations,’’ Ghisletta said.

It’s not only drivers who are advised to be more alert, including staying off their cell phones and not texting while driving, but parents are encouraged to speak to their children about the rules of the road. Contra Costa County Fire District offered these safety tips to ensure they have a fun and safe school year.

When riding to and from school, children should:

• Always wear a helmet;

• Obey all traffic rules;

• Ride your bike near the right side of the road;

• Never carry another person on your bike;

• Always use hand signals when turning or stopping;

• Watch for cars at cross streets, driveways and parking areas;

• Watch for opening doors when riding alongside parked cars; and

• Always ride carefully.

And, when on foot, youngsters are reminded to:

• Walk, don’t run!

• Look all ways when crossing the street;

• Do not stop and talk to strangers;

• Walk on sidewalks if possible, stay close to the side of the road if no sidewalk is available; and

• Always walk safely and cautiously.

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