Mishawaka officials share safety tips ahead of upcoming school year

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Mishawaka officials---including first responders, teachers, and Mayor Dave Wood—gathered on Monday morning to talk about back-to-school safety.

Their message—cool your engines and slow down. School zone speed limits and stop arm violations will be enforced.

Police are asking that you put your phone down and eliminate distractions while you’re behind the wheel.

“Just clearly a heads up—stay off your phones, do not drive and text, pay attention, (and) leave earlier, if possible,” says Chief Ken Witkowski of the Mishawaka Police Department. “But the bottom line is, if you’re going to be late, you’re going to be late. So don’t put someone’s life in danger just trying to hurry up.”

The school year begins for School City of Mishawaka students on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Meanwhile, students in the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation will got back to the classroom next Wednesday. To find your local school district’s start dare, click here.

The Mishawaka Police Department released the following list of back-to-school safety tips:


  • Plan your walking route that will be walked each day before school starts.
  • Go straight home, don’t stop anywhere or use another route without permission,
  • Try to walk with someone to and from school.
  • Use sidewalks when available.
  • Stop at alleys to check for traffic.
  • Teach your children to recognize and obey traffic signals, signs, and crossing guards.
  • Only cross streets at designated crosswalks, street corners, or intersections with traffic lights.
  • Stand back several feet from the curb when waiting to cross.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street, even if it’s your turn to cross.
  • Always walk and never run across intersections or run into a street for any reason.
  • Avoid talking to strangers. Teach your children to get distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them.
  • If a stranger does approach your child, make sure they know how to immediately report the incident to you or a teacher.
  • Teach your children to never get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them, without your permission.
  • On dark mornings be sure to wear light or reflective clothing/jackets.


Practice the “Walking To School” tips with the following modifications:

  • Check with the school to make sure your child is allowed to ride their bicycle to school.
  • Make sure your child always wears a bicycle helmet!
  • Obey the rules of the road; the rules are the same for all vehicles, including bicycles.
  • Always stay on the right-hand side of the road and ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Be sure your child knows and uses all of the appropriate hand signals.
  • Choose the safest route between home and school and practice it with children until they can demonstrate traffic safety awareness.
  • If possible, try to ride with someone else.


  • Wear your seatbelt, it’s the law. Parents, model wearing your seatbelt, it’s the law.
  • Find out what your school’s drop-off/pick-up procedure is before the first day of school.
  • Always have your child exit the vehicle on the sidewalk side of the car, never allow them to exit on the traffic side.
  • The above applies to pick-up time. Children should never run between cars to get to your car.


  • Be on the lookout for school zone signals and ALWAYS obey the speed limits.
  • When entering a school zone, be sure to slow down and obey all traffic laws.
  • Be prepared to stop if necessary.
  • Always stop for school or city busses that are loading or unloading children.
  • Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
  • Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, sidewalks, at intersections, in the streets, in school parking lots, etc.
  • Never pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone, or attempt to change lanes.
  • Never text or look at texts while driving.
  • Eliminate distractions and avoid using a cell phone while driving in a school zone.
  • Plan for extra time to arrive at your destination when traveling through school zones.

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