Students, drivers need to use extra caution as new school year starts

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With thousands of local children returning to school this week, students and drivers must use extra caution to ensure their safety and to prevent a tragic accident. The dangers are real in October 2005 a M-PHS student was seriously injured when he was hit by a bus while on his way to school in darkness of the early morning.
Whether students travel to school by walking, riding the bus or by car, the American Red Cross of Snohomish County offers the following safety tips for parents and students.

Tips for school bus riders
Line up facing the bus, not along side it.
Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus.
Carry all loose belongings in a bag or backpack.
Never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it. The bus driver may be sitting too high to see you.
After getting off the bus, move immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic. If there is no sidewalk, try to stay as far to the side of the road as possible.
Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street. Walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.
Never cross the street or play behind the school bus.

Tips for pedestrians or bike riders
Never walk alone always travel with a buddy.
Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards along the way. Never cross the street against a stop light.
Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
Avoid ill-fitting clothing that could get caught is spokes or pedals or restrict movements, and wear reflective colors and material to be more visible to street traffic.
Walk you bicycle across all intersections.

Tips for car drivers and passengers
It is Washington state law that everyone in the car wear a seatbelt, as it lowers the risk of injury in the event of a crash by 45 percent.
Make sure babies and young children are in safety seats at all times and that safety seats have been properly installed.
Read you cars manual for safety precautions specifically related to the car and its airbags.
Remind teenagers to take extra precautions if they are driving to school or riding with another teenage driver.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration points out that all drivers, not just those taking their children to school, must take extra precautions when children return to school. The NHTSA offers the following tips for all drivers.
When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street with out looking for traffic.
Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state. Learn the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Safety is everyones responsibility. Whether youre a student or a driver, following these tips will help ensure that tragedy does not happen in our community.


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Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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