Think about safety as the school year starts

The sounds of school bells ringing and children yelling will be heard around the area during the next few weeks. It is a good time to remind everyone to be safe as the new school year opens.

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

Children are excited to see friends they may not have seen in months and can sometimes run out into traffic without thinking. It is up to drivers to be alert all the time to make sure they are always looking for such an instance.

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.

According to surveys in recent years, there are up to 600 incidents each school day of motorists illegally passing buses in West Virginia.

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

Drivers also 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 couple minute detour 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 school 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, and should teach them 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 practice trips and point out danger spots. Make sure the child takes the same route everyday.

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