Some of the metro's newest school children picked up valuable lessons Wednesday as Omaha police offered a traffic safety course.
The kids gathered at Westroads Mall to learn about traffic, fire and car safety. This was mostly geared to kindergartners who learned how to safely cross streets.
They learned what traffic signs mean, how to use a crosswalk and how to pay attention to drivers. There was a cartoon about traffic safety before heading out to the parking lot. The lot resembled an obstacle course where the kids learned how to get on and off a bus as well as the basic safety rules.
Max Christiansen of Omaha knows to, "Look both ways," for starters. Then comes the follow-through. "Cross the street and keep looking."
Max is heading into first grade but he'll be looking out for his brother who will be going to kindergarten.
Police say being aware is paramount for kids. In 2010, nearly one in five children between the ages of 5 and 9 were killed in pedestrian crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“After the long summer they're excited to get to school and safety needs to be first and everybody's not paying attention and it's very helpful if both the cars and the children are aware of the situation,” says parent Regina Shoemaker.
As serious as traffic safety is, police say the program is a fun way for kids to prepare to go solo.
“When they come back they're like, 'we did this mom,' and 'we did that' and it's just neat to see the excitement in their face and we still, to this day, will hear about people who have done it 10 years ago and say what a great program it was,” said Omaha Police Officer Sonia Elkin.
A firefighter will also provided basic fire safety tips like how to stop, drop and roll and how to get out of a burning building safely.
OPD is also holding sessions Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.