The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

It’s that time of year again; the kids are going back to school. It seems like yesterday was the end of June and the kids were getting out of school. Another summer has passed us by and the beginning of a new school year is upon us.

Let’s make sure this school year is safe for the children in our school system. Here are a few safety tips for all of us to abide by, for the students, for parents, and for all members of our community.

Walking to School

Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
If your child is young or is walking to a new school, walk with them the first week to make sure they know the route and can do it safely.
Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.


Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
Respect traffic lights and stop signs.

School Bus

Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
Do not move around on the bus.
Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.
Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.

Tips for Motorists

All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
Do not text or talk on your cell phone while driving.
Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits.
Watch for school buses. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm indicate the school bus is stopping to load or unload children. State law requires you to stop.
Keep an eye out for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks.
Be alert for children playing and gathering near bus stops and for those who may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or biking to school
When driving in neighborhoods or school zones, watch for young people who may be in a hurry to get to or away from school and may not be thinking about getting there safely.

Tips for Parents

Be a good role model. Always buckle up in the car, always wear a helmet when biking, and always follow pedestrian safety rules. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone while driving.
Supervise young children as they are walking or biking to school or as they wait at the school bus stop.
Make sure that your teen driver understands and obeys all traffic laws. Discourage them from texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Tips for Students

Always buckle up when riding in a car. Be sure to remove your backpack before getting in the vehicle. Never buckle your safety belt with your backpack on.
Always wear a helmet and follow traffic safety rules when riding your bike.
If you ride a school bus, learn and practice the safety rules for waiting at the bus stop, getting on and off the bus, and riding the bus.
Never wait for the school bus in the roadway.
If you walk to school, learn and practice the safety rules for pedestrians. It’s extremely important for you to use sidewalk when available, look left-right-left when crossing the road, and always walk facing traffic.
Always cross at cross walks, obey all traffic signs, traffic lights and crossing guard instructions.
Teen drivers should avoid speeding and distractions while driving, such as texting, talking on cell phones, eating and adjusting the radio. Teens are also reminded never to overload their vehicle; everyone riding in a vehicle must use a safety belt.
Be a good role model for your younger brothers, sisters and friends, and help them learn and follow vehicle safety rules.

Enjoy the school year and be safe!