Road Safety Tips from a CapMetro ATXpert

By Kris Hafezizadeh, Executive Director of Transportation for Austin ISD and CapMetro ATXpert

After a great holiday season, we’re getting ready to go back to school. Soon students will be on the roads again, walking, biking and taking the bus … and not just the yellow school buses. They are also relying on Capital Metro to get to and from campus safely.

Thanks to CapMetro’s Kids Ride Free program, K-12 students can ride the bus free of charge!

To ensure students get to their destination safely, always be on the lookout as they board at bus stops, cross crosswalks and walk to school. Drivers and pedestrians have the responsibility to be careful on the road, and to be aware of school zones and crosswalks. When commuting to and from work, make sure you are following safety practices and being mindful of children on the road.

In addition to being careful when you are behind the wheel, there are other ways you can help us improve safety on the roads. Teach your kids and everyone in your community to always use crosswalks and cross with the signal. Set an example by teaching the younger members of our community to practice street smarts.

Start the new year off right by following safe road practices that help students and everyone in our community arrive at their destination.

Drivers Be Mindful of Students Returning to School

It is important for drivers to be careful every time they get behind the wheel, and it takes on added importance when school is back in session. Children will be hitting the streets, walking, biking and riding the bus. And they’re not just riding in big yellow school buses. There are plenty of students who take Capital Metro — which is free for riders younger than 18 — to get to and from school or to activities after school.

Kids in Austin ISD go back to school Aug. 20, so take extra care and be aware of children crossing to bus stops or entering or exiting CapMetro and school buses.

Also, be aware of school zones and crosswalks. Stop when crosswalks are occupied if the crosswalk is marked with a sign, even if there is no light and no stop sign.

There will be a lot of youngsters making their start at school, so they won’t always have the experience of watching for traffic or knowing when to cross. That’s why it’s important for drivers to be extremely cautious and watchful for our  students who might still be learning pedestrian safety.

The new school year is always a time for adjustment. With some added awareness, we can all help get the school year off to a safe start.

Safety Tips for College Students

Welcome back to the new school year! There is a lot to be excited about for new students starting their college experience, and for returning students continuing to make memories.

But with events, activities, festivals, and of course, football games filling your fall, Capital Metro wants to make sure all sports and festival fans are keeping themselves safe going to and from these events.

It can be really easy to move and walk with the crowd. A herd mentality starts to take over. That doesn’t mean you’re protected from distracted drivers. Keep your head up and continue to look for traffic when events let out. Don’t just spill into the street where you run the risk of getting hit.

If you are headed for some post-event festivities and have mapped your trek, make sure your eyes aren’t glued to your screen the entire time. Check your phone periodically and only when you’re safely on the sidewalk or a corner out of the street.

College provides a lot of fun and there are plenty of memories to be made. Keep yourself and your friends safe to enjoy them. Remember, CapMetro is always a good choice for a safe ride.


Don’t Take Shortcuts: Use the Crosswalk

We all have places to be and we all want to get there as quickly as possible. If there’s a shortcut, we typically take it.

But there’s one shortcut you should never take, and that’s crossing the street in the middle of the block. It’s illegal, but most of all it’s dangerous.

The distance across six lanes of traffic may seem like nothing compared to a trek to the corner, crossing the street and then walking to where you need to be. But the risk is never worth it.

Crosswalks provide pedestrians an extra level of protection from oncoming traffic.  Vehicles are required to stop when pedestrians are in the street, however, crosswalks and clearly marked intersections provide a visual reminder for drivers that pedestrians are part of the equation. Plus, drivers expect to see pedestrians at crosswalks. They know to be careful when approaching an intersection. The same is certainly not always true midblock.

There is too much riding on your safety to risk crossing heavily trafficked lanes, all in the name of saving some time. It’s just not worth it.

Simple tips can keep kids safe on CapMetro

Capital Metro is a great, affordable way for kids to get out and have some fun this summer with all kids under 18 riding for free.

Whether you’re escorting your kids, or they ride CapMetro themselves, it is important to reinforce some safety messages to get them securely from Point A to B.

On CapMetro buses 

Always cross at a crosswalk. The bus stop may be in the middle of the block, but it’s safer to go to the corner and cross with the traffic light or at a clearly marked intersection. When crossing, encourage your kids to look left, right, then left again. Don’t cross until it’s clear and remind them to keep checking while crossing. If there’s a light, wait for the “walk” light before crossing. If it’s a four-way stop with signs, have your kids make eye contact with drivers to ensure they have been seen before attempting to cross.

Kids need to stay focused on their surroundings, so they should take out their earbuds to concentrate on the traffic and their environment when traveling to the bus stop. Kids should also stay on the sidewalk if it’s available. If there isn’t one, remind them to move against the flow of traffic. This makes it easier to see oncoming vehicles and for those vehicles to see them.

Once on board, children should find an available seat as soon as possible or hold onto the passenger rails until a seat becomes available. When exiting, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before leaving your seat and heading for the door.

Children (and adults) should never chase a bus. Another one is usually a few minutes away. Also, just like in school, never cross in front of a bus, into traffic.

On MetroRail

Kids need to keep their eyes up and look out for MetroRail trains which are faster and quieter than freight trains. MetroRail trains also aren’t required to blow horns in designated quiet zones.

Tracks should only be crossed at designated crossings. Remind kids they need to stay clear from walking alongside tracks as well. The area 25 feet on each side of the tracks between Downtown Station and Gracy Farms crossing is CapMetro right-of-way and off-limits. Anyone in that space is considered trespassing. The right-of-way extends to 50 feet on either side of the tracks from Gracy Farms to Leander.

Following these guidelines can help everyone, especially kids, have a fun and safe summer using CapMetro to get around.

Ojos en la carretera y la mente enfocada

Cualquier viajero en Austin puede confirmar que hay muchos autos en la carretera. De acuerdo con el sitio web, aproximadamente el 8.7% de los hogares de los EE. UU. No tienen automóviles. En Austin, ese número es tan solo el 6%.

Los operadores de Capital Metro hacen un esfuerzo increíble al navegar por la marea del tráfico de la mañana y la tarde, sin mencionar el laberinto de proyectos de construcción en toda la región. Para complicar más el trayecto, está la cantidad de conductores distraídos que ven los atascos de tráfico como una oportunidad para responder a un mensaje de texto o enviar un “último” correo electrónico. Durante este Mes Nacional de la Seguridad, quisimos ofrecer algunos consejos para ayudar a nuestros conductores a mantener sus ojos en la carretera y la mente enfocada.

1.     No envíe mensajes de texto al manejar. Esto parece tener sentido común. En 2017, Texas prohibió enviar mensajes de texto al manejar, pero aún así sigue sucediendo. Para evitar enviar mensajes de texto la gente opta por usar el comando de voz, pero aún así eso requiere un enfoque mental que debería ser utilizado para manejar.

2.     Maneje con las manos libres. A veces se necesita un mapa para llegar a su destino y cuenta con las aplicaciones para evitar los atascos de tráfico. En estos casos se recomienda poner el teléfono en un soporte ya que la ordenanza de la ciudad requiere que usted opere su teléfono con las manos libres.

3.     Use el “no molestar”. Casi todos los sistemas operativos vienen con la opción de colocar el teléfono en el modo “no molestar” al estar manejando. Envíe un mensaje en automático a cualquier persona que intente enviarle un mensaje de texto, haciéndole saber que volverá a comunicarse con ellos una vez que se haya detenido.

4.     Ponga en silencio su celular. Si no puede estar sin su teléfono, póngalo en silencio al manejar. O aún mejor, póngalo fuera de alcance. Una mirada a la pantalla o un momento en que se apresure en tomar el teléfono puede tener efectos devastadores para el resto de su vida.

Es imperativo considerar su seguridad, la seguridad de quienes viajan con usted y quienes lo rodean cada vez que maneje. Todos los que se comparten la carretera desempeñamos un papel en la seguridad vial.

National Safety Month

Every June the National Safety Council encourages organizations to put an emphasis on reducing the leading causes of injury “at work, on the road and in our homes and communities.” This is something Capital Metro does every day.

2019 APTA Gold Award Safety SMCRA lot of this happens behind the scenes. Our safety department has been working with everyone at Capital Metro to be “Serious About Safety” and has made that the top responsibility of each and every employee and contractor who works in our system. In our industry that is called “creating a safety culture” and Capital Metro was recently honored by the American Public Transportation Association with a Gold Award for its safety efforts. Among these endeavors was the creation of a hazard assessment team that is responsible for identifying and assessing potential hazards and making recommendations on how to deal with them. Another was the institution of a safety management system that encourages all to report areas of concern about safety throughout the road and work environments.

IMG_1331 CRYou may have seen the signs on the back of our buses that took a humorous approach to not running into the bus. The signs featured everything from, “You Wouldn’t Hit a Bus with Glasses” to a photo of a group of startled people saying, “Whoa, Whoa. This Is a Bus. Stay Back.” These may sound silly, but they worked! The ads reduced rear-end crashes on these vehicles by 69%. You may have also seen signs on the sides of our buses honoring the Safety Champions — employees whose focus on safety made a real difference in the workplace. That inspired a lot of employees to work even harder to make safety their number one goal.

Capital Metro is honored to receive this recognition, but a lot of what keeps our community safe is YOU. So, this June, think about what you are doing when it comes to safety. In the coming weeks we will be sharing information on the things you can do to stay safe on our roads and around Capital Metro buses and trains. Let’s all work together to make our roads and sidewalks even safer, not just in June, but all year.