The Recorder

Stressing safety as school year nears

This coming week, the collective groans we’ll hear across the Mohawk Valley are from children returning to school. Those cheers you’ll hear will come from their parents.

Back to school means school buses are back on the road, and many children will be on the roadways and sidewalks hoofing it to their places of learning. With schools back in session next week, it’s important for motorists to use extra caution while they’re out and about for the next several months. It’s also important for youngsters to watch out for drivers who may not being paying attention.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for 23 million children, their school day starts and stops on a school bus. According to the NHTSA, the greatest risk for kids isn’t riding the bus, but approaching or leaving it. The federal agency offers the following suggestions for drivers:

When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.

Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

Obey the school bus laws: Yellow lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children; red lights and extended stop arms indicate that children are getting on or off. Motorists have to wait until the red lights are off, the stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can resume their trip.

Most of these guidelines are common sense when it comes to school bus safety, but we’ll never cease to be amazed by the number of motorists who can never seem to figure them out or choose not to.