Be safe as school year begins

School bells will be ringing around the area in the next week or so, and it is a good time to remind everyone to be safe.

School officials and law enforcement every year preach the importance of driving safely near schools, but it is even more important during those first several weeks of the school year.

Kids are excited to see friends that may not have seen in months. They will run out into traffic without thinking. But it is up to drivers to be alert at all times, and to make sure they are always aware of what is happening around them.

Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction should remember they are required to stop a least 10 feet back from buses displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm.

Drivers need to exercise patience when behind a stopped school bus.

Drivers need to slow down in school zones and residential areas where children may be walking to and from school. Watch carefully when backing out of a driveway or garage.

Be aware of the times school starts and ends. It is sometimes best to just avoid a school zone during those times. A detour of a couple minutes around a school zone may be safer.

Also, drivers need to make sure their windows and windshields are clear of dew or ice and snow as the year progresses. Limited visibility can lead to delayed response time if a child runs out into the street.

Parents also have a responsibility when it comes to getting their child safely to and from school.

Teach kids how to safely cross the street and to only cross in a crosswalk. Children should only walk on the sidewalk.

If your child does walk to school or the bus stop, take a couple of practice trips and point out danger spots. Make sure the child takes the same route every day.

School bells are a reminder for everyone to be safe during the school year.

Be alert and drive safely near schools or school bus stops.