Back To School: Drive with caution at school zones

GroupMeade High Principal John Yore watches the first buses arrive in 2015. Motorists are reminded to be safe in school zones. (File photo by Phil Grout)

By Jenelle Ferguson, Installation Safety Office

As children prepare for shopping trips for new school clothes and parents prep to conquer the back-to-school supply list, it is also a time to remind motorists that the roads are about to be shared with young drivers heading to school, children at crosswalks, bicyclists and school buses.

Drivers and pedestrians must be more cautious as children can get caught up in the excitement of a new school year.

Use extra caution when traveling near schools, especially as the school year begins. Eyes should be scanning the road when entering a marked school zone.

Here are some safety tips to support drivers, bicyclists and walkers as they gear up for hustle and bustle of the new school year:

Crosswalks/Sidewalks

  • Children: Walk only on the sidewalk and cross the street only at crosswalks. Avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars.
  • Drivers: Be aware of children darting across the street when least expected.

Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights before turning right, allowing time for children to safely cross the street.

Pedestrians/Bicyclists

  • Walk with caution.
  • Always stop for stop signs and follow the rules of traffic lights.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
  • Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards along the way. Always stop when directed by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or crossing guard.
  • Travel with a friend to avoid walking alone.
  • Walk your bicycle across all intersections. Always wear a helmet.
  • Do not listen to your iPod or MP3 player or other music device.
  • Always pay attention to the traffic.

Motorists/ Passengers

  • Everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt.
  • Wait your turn. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • Remind teenagers to take extra precautions if they are driving to school or riding with another teenage driver.
  • Avoid driving distracted.
  • Be alert, particularly near bus stops; children are unpredictable.
  • Slow down. Drive 20 mph in school zones

School bus passengers

  • Have a safe place to wait for the school bus, away from traffic.
  • Line up facing the bus, not alongside it.
  • Stay away from bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
  • Use handrail to enter and exit the bus.
  • When exiting the bus, be sure that drawstrings and straps don’t get caught on handrail or in door.
  • When exiting, take five GIANT steps away from bus.
  • Never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it. If something is dropped near the bus, always tell the bus driver.
  • Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street.
  • Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus.

School buses

When a school bus stops with its red brake lights flashing and/or its stop sign raised, motorists must stop from either direction until all children are safely across the street.

Remember:

  • Yellow flashing lights: The bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arm: Stop at least 20 feet from the bus when behind or meeting. The only time stopping is not required is on the other side of a divided highway.
  • Stop between 10 and 30 feet from the school crossing when a crossing guard directs.
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