As students prepare to return to school in the coming weeks, Chief Brian Levesque and the Dartmouth Police Department ask that community members follow several important safety tips.

"A new school year means that there will be several students getting on and off the bus and walking to and from school," Chief Levesque said. "Drivers are asked to please keep their eyes on the road and be patient driving behind school buses. We wish everyone in Dartmouth an excellent and safe school year."

With students often on their phones texting, browsing the internet or playing games, the Dartmouth Police Department recommends that parents talk to their children about the following safety tips provided by the National Safety Council (NSC) when headed to and from school:

  • Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
  • Cross only at crosswalks.

Drivers should be on increased alert when traveling through school zones and should NEVER text and drive. Additionally, the NSC reminds operators to:

  • Stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Do not honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

To best ensure that children who travel to school by bus get there safely, Dartmouth Police advise that students follow these tips from the NSC:

Getting on the bus:

  • When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness.
  • Line up away from the street as the bus approaches.
  • Wait until the bus has stopped and the doors open before approaching.

Behavior on the bus:

  • If available, always wear your seat belt.
  • Don’t put your head, arms or hands out the window.
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.

Getting off the bus:

  • If you have to cross in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver. Make sure the driver can see you too.
  • Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing. When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
  • If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you.

The return of classes also means that there will be many new teen drivers operating on the roads going to and from school.

According to the NSC, teen crashes occur most often because they are inexperienced. They struggle judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for road conditions and turning safely, among other things.

The Dartmouth Police Department, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminds parents to set the rules before their kids hit the road with "5 to Drive":

  • No cell phones while driving
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • No driving or riding without a seat belt

Statistically, half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens, yet these crashes are preventable. Teen drivers who continue to practice with their parents after obtaining their license increase their chances of avoiding a crash."