Thursday, August 10, 2017

Class is in session: Back to school safety tips

For many students across Kansas, the start of the school year is approaching. Motorists are encouraged to remember that students will soon be walking or biking to and from school, as well as entering or exiting buses and vehicles. Give yourself extra travel time and pay attention to help improve safety for everyone.

According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than any other location. If you are dropping your child off at school, make sure you understand your school’s drop off and pick-up procedure.

When sharing the road with young pedestrians, it is important to keep the following in mind:
  • No matter where the pedestrians may be, always use extreme caution. Young students may not understand all the traffic laws and it’s up to motorists to avoid hitting them.
  • If a vehicle is stopped for pedestrians, don’t pass.
  • Use your eyes, and look out for children who may be playing in playgrounds, parks and residential areas.
  • When flashers are blinking in a school zone, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the intersection or crosswalk.
  • Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at a red light or preparing to turn. Forcing pedestrians to go around you is dangerous and puts them in the path of oncoming traffic.

Bicycling is one of the most popular ways that children travel to school. On certain roads, most bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. Unfortunately, children riding bikes can be unpredictable and young bicyclists may not understand all the laws surrounding traffic safety. 

Because bikes are smaller than a normal vehicle, the following should be considered:

  • When passing a bicyclist, do so slowly and leave about 3 feet between the bicyclist and your vehicle.
  • Wait for riders coming from the opposite direction to pass before you turn left.
  • If you are turning right and a bicyclist is behind you, it better to let the bicyclist go through the intersection first before you finish making your turn.
  • Always use your blinkers to communicate with all forms of vehicles, especially bicyclists.
  • Young bikers can turn in front of cars with little to no warning and they may not be paying attention. Always stay alert.
  • When traveling in school zones, expect the unexpected. Check for bikes coming from behind parked cars and drive ways.

Some children rely on the school bus for transportation. If you find yourself behind a school bus, allow for greater distance between yourself and the larger vehicle. Doing so will give you more time to stop.

It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped and waiting for children to board or depart the vehicle. With that in mind, there are more things to remember when sharing the road with a school bus:

  • Stop far enough away from a school bus to allow the children to enter or depart safely. A 10-foot area around the bus can be the most dangerous for children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and stop arm is extending traffic MUST stop.
  • Be alert! Children can be unpredictable.

Parents or guardians of children should try to teach students ways they can improve safety during the school year and any time they need to interact with vehicles.

We wish all students who are starting their new school year the best of luck! And remember to always look left, then right and left again before crossing the street.

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