Students are headed back to school, and that means more children and buses on the roads.

The greatest risk to a child is not riding a bus but approaching or leaving one. From 2008 to 2017, there were 264 school-age children killed in school-transportation-related crashes. The majority of those students were not on the bus; 203 were either walking, waiting for the bus, biking, or in another vehicle.

Drivers must stop for school buses. They may need to add more time to their commute, because when buses stop to pick up students, other drivers need to stop, too. Yellow flashing lights mean slow down—do not speed up—because the bus is preparing to stop. There are likely students waiting to get on the bus or parents waiting nearby to pick up children.

Red flashing lights mean stop—and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus—because children are getting on or off the school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.

Even when lights are not flashing, watch for children—particularly in the morning or midafternoon—around school arrival and dismissal times. Be alert as you back out of a driveway, or drive through a neighborhood, school zone or bus stop.

Parents should talk about bus safety with their children. School buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school. Children should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

Teach them to play it safe:

-Stay five steps away from the curb.

-Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver tells children to board.

-Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.

-Exit the bus when it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing a street.

(Please see the September 5 issue of the Tri-County News for more on this story.)

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