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A trio of California Highway Patrol officers accompanied students and parents Wednesday on their morning walk to Alice Shaw Elementary as part of a national effort to promote alternative ways to get to school. 

First held in 1997, National Walk to School Day gives students and families the opportunity to experience the joy of walking or biking to school in a safe environment. CHP officers Efrem Moore, Jordan Richards and Danny Maher were on-scene to ensure that students and drivers safely navigated the 8:30 a.m. rush.

"The parents were glad to see us out there ... walking around and actively engaging with students," Moore said. "We decided that it went over so well we're going to try and do it once a quarter. It made a big impression with the parents and the kids."

Moore said drivers should remember to yield for pedestrians at every intersection and drive at lower speeds when traveling in areas where children are likely to be present. He said distracted driving can take many forms — drinking a coffee, eating food, fiddling with the radio or air conditioner — and drivers should refrain from taking their full attention off the road.

Before crossing the street, pedestrians should always remember to look left-right-left and continue scanning as they cross. Crosswalks should be used whenever they are available, and pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers, ensuring they are spotted, when stepping into the street. Sidewalks should be used whenever possible and, if there isn't a sidewalk, pedestrians should walk facing traffic. 

Funding for the program was provided by a grant from the California Officer of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.