NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES - The beginning of the school year means more traffic and congestion around Southland schools. Students as well as drivers are being warned to play it safe and stay alert.
The start of the new academic year has some local parents worried about the safety of their children.
"People just are crazy drivers in general," said Erica Gomez, a parent. "We are worried about the crosswalks and everything, because a lot of parents do cross the streets that don't have stop signs or guards, so that's kind of our worry."
School police, the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Department of Transportation are all trying to get the word out early to drivers and children to be safe.
They held a safety demonstration event at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in North Hollywood on Wednesday.
"We want everybody to make sure that you're patient, get to school safely, and remember that our staff, our administration and our volunteers are out there at your school to help you with pickup and drop-off," said Sgt. Julie Spry with L.A. School police.
Distracted driving has become a big worry in recent years, but distracted walking is also a big issue. Kids often walk with their heads buried in their phones. Authorities are reminding parents to tell their kids to keep their eyes on the road.
"It's important for everybody to understand that just keep your eyes on the road, pay attention to what's going on around you, that way we'll keep everybody safe," Spry said.
Authorities used a demonstration at Wednesday's event to remind people why students need a helmet when riding a bike.
A watermelon dropped on the ground with a helmet attached stayed intact, while a watermelon without a helmet cracked open all over the sidewalk.
"We encourage parents to talk with their kids about wearing a helmet on every ride. It protects their head in the event of a crash," said Doug Shupe with AAA.
Officials also offered this tip for students walking to school: Try and make eye contact with the drivers to make sure they see you.