Make safety a priority

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, August 22, 2019

School buses have been seen more across the city the past few days as drivers are out practicing their routes, preparing for the start of school which, unbelievably, comes just over a week from now.

As part of our back-to-school coverage, we feel it prudent to remind families and motorists of the safety regulations and tips surrounding school buses, in an effort to avoid a preventable tragedy. These tips come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For parents

  • Have your child arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus — at least three giant steps, or six feet, away from the curb.
  • Remind your child the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
  • Teach your child to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s OK before approaching the bus door.
  • Teach your child never to walk behind a school bus. If they must cross the street in front of the bus, tell them to walk at least five giant steps in front of the bus.
  • Teach your child to make eye contact with the driver before crossing.
  • Teach your child not to try to pick up a dropped item near the school bus. They should instead tell the bus driver right away.

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For motorists

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or bicycling to school or to their bus stop.
  • Slow down and watch for young people when driving near school zones, especially in neighborhoods.
  • Slow down and watch for children walking in the streets, especially if there are no sidewalks in your neighborhood.
  • Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
  • Be alert and watch for children darting into the street without looking.

Most importantly, Virginia drivers should remember to:

  • stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when approaching from any direction;
  • remain stopped until everyone is clear and the bus moves again;
  • and stop whenever the bus is loading or unloading passengers, even if the lights and stop sign are not activated.

If a school bus is on the opposite side of a median or barrier, motorists aren’t required to stop; however, drivers should remain alert and be prepared to stop if students cross into their lane.