Be cautious with school traffic

A reminder to all drivers, be mindful of children and teens as area schools are, or soon will be, back in session.

As drivers, we now need to be extra vigilant in the early mornings and mid-afternoons when our children are walking to and from schools or bus stops. And remember, it’s the start of a school year, so children are excited to see friends they haven’t seen in a few months. They may be scurrying to greet classmates and could easily dart out into traffic.

With that in mind, there are some basic safety measures all drivers should follow. Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction should remember they are required to stop at least 10 feet back from buses displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. From 2014 through 2016, 4,160 motorists were cited for failing to stop for a school bus when it was loading or unloading children.

Drivers most assuredly need to exercise patience when behind a stopped school bus and remember to slow down in school zones and residential areas where children may be walking to and from school. Also, motorists should watch carefully when backing out of a driveway or garage.

Be aware of the times school starts and ends in your area. It is sometimes best to avoid a school zone during those times, as a 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, too, have a responsibility when it comes to getting their child safely to and from school. They need to teach children how to safely cross the street and only to cross in a crosswalk, and children should only walk on the sidewalk.

If your child does walk to school or the bus stop, please take the time to make a few practice trips and point out dangerous spots. And please, make sure the child takes the same route every day.

We urge motorists to drive safe and slow down. Our children are heading back to school.