(Aug. 31, 2021) Starting tomorrow, Sept. 1, tens of thousands of children will be returning to in-person school, many for the first time in more than a year. With so many kids walking, biking and otherwise traveling on the city's sidewalks and streets, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is urging people driving to be especially careful and to drive with extra caution and attention.
"Back to school could be especially challenging this year," said Transportation Director Chris Warner. "Many children haven't been back to school in 17 months. People driving aren't used to seeing kids during their morning and evening commutes. Students may be out of the habit of traveling on their own to school. On top of this, travel patterns have changed and people may have forgotten how to safely navigate around schools during drop-off and pick-up times. That's why we are partnering with Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation to get the message out that school routes are everywhere and people need to drive like it. Our kids are counting on us."
There are more than 120 elementary, middle and high schools in the City of Portland. Every school day, 67,000 students travel to these schools. People driving across Portland will, on average, pass a school or cross a school route every half mile. Vehicle crashes peak on weekdays between 3-7 p.m., right around school dismissal time. In an effort to keep kids safe, PBOT is urging Portlanders to do the following:
- Drive 20 mph or less in schools zones.
- Stop for school buses; never go around them.
- Remember students travel on TriMet all over the city; watch for students walking to and from transit stops.
- Families and students should practice their route before the start of classes to pick the safest way to school. The PBOT Safe Routes to School website offers maps and other resources for families and schools to plan their trips.
To help reinforce this safety messaging, PBOT's Safe Routes to School Program has partnered with Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation on the statewide Drive Like It safety campaign. With the tagline, "School routes are everywhere. Drive Like It," the campaign reminds drivers to travel slowly because the routes kids use to get to school are on all streets.
We encourage the public to spread the word using your favorite social media platform or email newsletter. Materials for this campaign are available in six languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Share the campaign through whichever platforms best suit you. Use your favorite examples of the draft message language exactly as they’re written, edit them to suit your own voice, or start from scratch by writing your own. Use the hashtag #DriveLikeIt to connect your social media posts to the campaign.
Access the campaign safety materials by visiting oregonsaferoutes.org/drivelikeit
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage, and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at portland.gov/transportation