North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

School is in session, seasons are changing, keep teens safe

 


Well another summer break is over and another school year is kicking into gear again. Personally, September is always a very busy time for me both as a parent of four kids who all return to school, but also as a Police Officer on Patrol and even as a Driving School Instructor on my days off.

This time of year can be challenging on many levels for us as parents, and in all honesty it is equally challenging and stressful for our kids.

As I have done each year for the last few years now, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone about the dangers and risks that are unique to the back to school season, and some safety tips on how to prepare ourselves and our teen drivers.

September and October are a unique transition time. Not only do our kids return to the daily grind of school, but the Season changes as well which makes for some pretty big changes to the way we drive out there.

Our kids often don’t get out of bed early during Summer time, so having to get up and out the door around 7am for school is a difficult proposition and a pretty significant system shock for them. Every parent knows firsthand that teenagers are particularly affected by this change, and are not always as alert as they should be in the mornings.

If your teens are driving, establishing a good routine for both getting to bed on time and getting up and going can really help them be safer when they leave the house. Safe driving starts with being alert and being able to see the conditions and hazards out there. In addition, getting up and going early can also help them get out the door earlier.

That’s really important. You never want to be rushed when driving. Bad things often result if you are in a hurry. Patrol Officers, Deputies, and State Troopers are out in force right now trying to get drivers to slow down and drive safely through school zones.

If you or your teen are tired and in a hurry, you are at greater risk of speeding, taking chances, and not considering the rights of other drivers or pedestrians.

As for the season, the days are getting shorter and the conditions are inevitably getting worse as we move further into the fall and winter seasons. With less daylight in the mornings, visibility becomes significantly reduced.

Again, safe driving is based a lot upon being able to identify the hazards and road conditions. With less visibility and less daylight, we should be adjusting the way we drive. A safe driver should reduce their speeds when visibility is diminished and needs to stay even more alert.

Seeing kids in school zones, other vehicles on the roadway, and identifying the traffic conditions gets a lot more difficult very quickly during this time of year. Rain, fog, ice, and snow also start to present themselves. When combined with the lack of daylight, these are significant challenges and require the driver to know how and when to adjust their driving, as well as what to do to be a safe driver in those conditions.

As we move further along in September and October, as well as into the winter season, we want to remind everyone that we all play a role in keeping the roadways safe. It starts with each of us by making sure that we drive responsibly and respectfully, but also by having the knowledge and the awareness of when to adapt our driving to the changing conditions.

Fall may be one of the busiest, craziest, and most stressful times of year for parents and teenagers alike, but it is also a perfect time to adjust our driving behaviors and to increase our awareness out there.

Have a great return to the school season, and drive safe!!!

 

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