CHARLESTON — As children begin gearing up to reunite with friends and classmates, there is a broader safety aspect to be considered. School buses will be back on the road, picking up and dropping off local area students. The American Red Cross wants to help make every student’s trip back to the classroom a safe one.
All students need to be looked out for on the road. There are special steps for parents of younger kids, and especially for those new, first time students. Before sending your children on the bus, make sure they know home phone numbers, their address, how to get in touch with parents at work and how to dial 911. Another issue parents should address before the start of the school is teaching children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.
School bus safety
• If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
• Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
• Only board your bus, never an alternate one.
• Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
• Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
• Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Getting to school by car, bike or on foot
• If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly. This is typical for children ages 8-12 and over 4′9″). They should always ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
• If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
• Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
• When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.
Drivers slow down
Drivers should be alert and aware to children walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop moving and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.