STEPHEN FRUEN: Time for school

Just a friendly reminder that it is back to school time. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our obligation to the safety of our children, faculty, and motorists traveling to and from school during this busy time of year. The Poteau Police Department needs drivers and pedestrians to be extra careful as the new school year starts. We are asking students to exercise caution when walking to and from school. The police department will have a special emphasis around each of the schools to help with traffic congestion, to slow down drivers and increase safety. Follow these officers’ command as they are providing the most efficient means of dropping off your children. Here are a few tips for drivers and pedestrians to make sure the 2013 school year gets off to a smooth and safe start.• Be watchful around schools and bus stops for children running into the street and out from behind buses.• When driving your children to school, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible. Don’t leave until they are safely on school grounds.• Drive slowly when approaching children riding bicycles and walking near the street.• Watch your speed when entering school zones.• Pay special attention to all traffic signals and crosswalks.• Never cross the street against a red light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming. • Plan a safe walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and if possible, with intersections that have traffic controls.• Teach children to arrive early for buses, stay out of the street, and to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street.• Be patient with the increased traffic and please drive friendly.• Remember if you leave earlier, take your time, and most of all, pay attention to your surroundings as you near schools, we should have a safe and successful start to the new school year.Again this year, I would also like to note that Michelle Drive will not be used for parking to drop your children off. In past years parents have parked on Michelle Drive (which is located on the west side of the school, with access from Hughes Drive) and walked their children across Hughes Drive to the school to avoid the congestion. This has caused problems for residents that live on this street. As cars pile up, the residents have a hard time getting through the parked traffic to get to work. It also poses a safety concern if an emergency vehicle needs to get into the residential area as this road has only one access. No parking signs have been posted and I ask that you abide by the signage.Again, think of the safety of our children and do your part to help make this busy time of year a safe one. Stephen Fruen is the Poteau Chief of Police. He has been in law enforcement 13 years and is a criminal justice graduate of Carl Albert State College.