2018-11-07 / Opinions & Letters

Motorists - drive safely near school zones and bus stops

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging motorists to exercise caution and follow State laws when approaching a school bus or school crossing. Following a string of recent tragedies in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, NHTSA is calling on the public and media to help educate communities on ways to reduce incidents of stop-arm violations and ensure all students arrive to and from school safely.

Motorists are urged to do their part to keep children safe. The following tips should help in doing that:

• Be alert and slow down when driving in neighborhoods with school zones.

• Watch for children walking, playing or assembling near bus stops. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

• Obey the school bus laws, as well as the flashing light signal systems used on school buses.

v Flashing yellow lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

v Flashing red lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again. There are also safety tips for caregivers and students that include:

• Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Stand at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb. The bus stop is not a place to run or play.

• When the school bus arrives, wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Use the handrails to avoid falling.

• Never walk behind a school bus. Walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street. Cross the street in front of the bus with at least five giant steps (10 feet) between the front of the bus and you. Make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see you.

• If you drop something near the school bus, like a ball or book, tell the bus driver right away. Do not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see you.

If these tips are heeded, bus stops and school zones should be safer places!

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