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Beaumaster: Back-to-School Safety Reminders

Here are some back-to-school safety reminders – for students, parents, motorists, and pedestrians.

To the relief of most parents, Rice County schools are back in session! The Rice County Attorney’s Office, all of Rice County’s Chiefs of Police, and the Rice County Sheriff want everyone to make it to school safely. Here are some back-to-school safety reminders – for students, parents, motorists, and pedestrians.

Have a family discussion on safely loading, riding, and exiting the school bus, and how to safely walk to school – consider this your “back-to-school homework.” Parents, talk to your teen drivers about a motorist’s responsibility to pay attention to school bus traffic – it will be a good reminder for them, and for you. More children are killed outside of a school bus than are killed as bus occupants. Motorists must anticipate children in a school bus “danger zone” — the area around a bus where most injuries and deaths occur.

Remind drivers in your household that each is responsible to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. But even so, teach and remind your children on where they should wait for their bus, how to walk around the bus, and how to safely cross busy streets. Both pedestrians and motorists should be aware and attentive to their surroundings!

With the new routine of a school year, our mornings are hectic. Drivers are distracted after readying backpacks, homework, and schedules for children. Kids are distracted when focusing on friends, their school day, or afterschool plans.

Please share these reminders with your family.

Tips for exiting the bus:

  • Look both ways to insure no cars are passing the bus.

  • Take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus until you can see the driver’s face; this insures that the driver can see you.
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. And keep watching traffic when crossing.

Tips for Pedestrians:

  • Don't count on drivers to pay attention — make eye contact with motorists. Be alert even when in a crosswalk.
  • Be predictable — cross streets at designated crossings and at street corners.
  • Use sidewalks. Where no sidewalks are provided, walk facing traffic.
  • Make yourself visible — dress in light colors; wear reflective material. Carry a flashlight if it’s dark.

Tips for Motorists:

  • Whether following or approaching a bus, stop at least 20 feet from the bus if it is displaying red flashing lights and/or an extended stop arm.
  • Red flashing lights on buses indicate students entering/exiting the bus.
  • Alter your route or schedule to avoid heavily traveled bus routes.
  • Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians; reduce your speed.
  • Watch and stop for pedestrians. It’s the law to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, even if it’s not marked. Consider every corner as a crosswalk
  • Pay attention. Texting and driving is illegal.

If you have a question about a law or regulation relating to bus traffic in our area, contact: the Rice County Attorney’s Office at 507-332-6103; your city’s police department; or the Rice County Sheriff’s Department at 507-332-6000.

Stay safe and have a great school year!

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