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MDOT SHA & MDOT MVA Highlight Rules of the Road on Walk to School Day to Keep Pedestrians Safe

(October 1, 2019) – With National Walk to School Day taking place tomorrow, October 2, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office (MHSO) remind everyone to Look Up, Look Out and stay alert when walking to school and driving through school zones and communities. Schools across Maryland are participating in the National Walk to School Day annual event sponsored by the Safe Routes to School program, and drivers should expect to encounter additional pedestrians during morning and afternoon commutes.

"National Walk to School Day provides an opportunity to refocus on pedestrian safety. There is no contest between a child and a vehicle, so when driving, please stay alert, expect the unexpected, and stop when children are crossing the roadway," said Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administrator Gregory Slater.

Last year, 111 pedestrians were killed in Maryland; 257 school-aged children were injured while walking during school arrival and dismissal times. Through the three “E’s” of safety—education, engineering and enforcement—State, local and private partners are focused on preventing pedestrian crashes.

“While tomorrow is recognized as Walk to School Day, we urge drivers and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings and make smart and safe choices every day including parking their phones, driving at posted speed limits and using crosswalks,” said MDOT MVA Administrator and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative Chrissy Nizer.

The MDOT SHA’s Look Up, Look Out campaign is an education initiative that reminds travelers that pedestrian safety is a two-way street, urging both drivers and pedestrians to make safe, smart choices on the road. The effort includes public service announcements, billboards, community outreach and social media efforts.

MDOT SHA will be attending Walk to School Day activities at Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School in Prince George’s County and Dorothy I Height Elementary School in Baltimore City distributing Look Up, Look Out resources to students.

This summer, MDOT SHA partnered with Chick-Fil-A and distributed 6,000 backpacks with reflective strips and educational information. To keep the message in front of our youngest pedestrians, members of the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens football organizations will be visiting elementary schools throughout Maryland for Walk Smart assemblies. 

About National Walk to School Day, October 2, 2019
National Walk to School Day highlights the benefits of walking and biking to school:

It’s Fun: Walking and bicycling bring a sense of joy and independence.

Healthier Habits: The trip to school is a chance for children (and adults!) to get the physical activity they need.

Cleaner Environment: Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can reduce congestion and air-polluting emissions. 

Reducing traffic congestion, boosting a sense of community, and improving neighborhood connections to benefit the community.

To further enhance the safety of children, MDOT SHA offers the following tips:

For pedestrians:

• Use sidewalks and marked cross walks whenever possible.

• Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.

• Always stop at the curb and look left, right and left before crossing a street.

• Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.

• Walk, don’t run across the street.

• Wear light or bright colored clothing.

• Pay attention - take off headphones while walking – no texting or playing games.

For drivers:

• Always stop for pedestrians.

• Obey traffic signs, signals and markings.

• Don’t run red lights.

• Observe posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.

• Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/device or text while driving.

• When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time as children get on or off the bus. 

• It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.

• Drivers must be patient. There is simply no room for aggressive driving around a school bus.