Back to school travel safety tips

A total of 95 fatal school bus crashes were reported in 2017, which is the lowest number reported in a decade. The graphic is courtesy of:

The 2019 school year is right around the corner for Rush County students.

It’s crucial for drivers to be aware and practice safety measures while traveling near schools, school buses and places students are picked up for school and dropped off.

“As we begin the school year it is very important to remember to watch for children in school zones, around bus stops and street crossings,” Superintendent of Rush County Schools Matt Vance said. “We will have 39 buses on the roads each day, and I hope all drivers watch for them and obey the stop arms. It is vital to be patient when buses are in your area and when in doubt drivers should stop. Our top priority is keeping students safe.”

Rush County kindergarten students start school on Tuesday, Aug. 6 and students in grades 1-12 start on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

The National Safety Council (NSC) suggests it’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when children are nearby. Approximately, 150,000 students suffer injures while traveling between home and school annually.

According to research conducted by the NSC, most children who lose their lives in bus related incidents are four to seven years old and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped school bus.

The NSC provides precautions to help keep children safe:

• Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you. This could put them in the path of moving traffic

• In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection

• Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign

• Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds, parks and in all residential areas

• Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian even if you have the right of way

• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians

• Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be no matter who has the right of way

It’s important to be extra cautious when sharing the road with school buses. Drivers should allow a greater following distance behind buses.

Remember, it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus when it’s stopped to load or unload children.

Below are more NSC precautions which should be taken when sharing the road with buses:

• Never pass a bus from behind, or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road, if it is stopped to load or unload children

• If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended traffic must stop

• The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus

• Be alert. Children often are unpredictable and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks

Additional NSC tips are listed below for bike riders, bus riders and those who drive students to school:

Bike riders

• Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in a single file

• Come to a complete stop before crossing the street. Walk bikes across the street

• Stay alert and avoid distracted riding

• Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing

Bus Riders

• Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus

• Teach your children to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb

• If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus. Your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other

Drivers of students

• Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure

• Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street

• Never pass a bus loading or unloading children