Some Columbiana County schools opened last week and the rest of those around the area will start classes in the next week, so it is a good time to remind everyone to be safe.
School officials and law enforcement every year preach the importance of driving safely near schools, but it is even more important during those first several weeks of the school year.
Kids are excited to see friends they may not have seen in months. They will run out into traffic without thinking. But it is up to drivers to be alert at all times, and to make sure they are always aware of what is happening around them.
Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction should remember they are required to stop a least 10 feet back from buses displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. From 2010 through 2012, 4,176 motorists were cited for failing to stop for a school bus when it was loading or unloading children, the patrol reported.
Drivers need to exercise patience when behind a stopped school bus.
Drivers need to slow down in school zones and residential areas where children may be walking to and from school. Watch carefully when backing out of a driveway or garage.
Be aware of the times school starts and ends. It is sometimes best to just avoid a school zone during those times. A detour of a couple minutes around a school zone may be safer.
Also, drivers need to make sure their windows and windshields are clear of dew or ice and snow as the year progresses. Limited visibility can lead to delayed response time if a child runs out into the street.
Parents also have a responsibility when it comes to getting their child safely to and from school.
Teach kids how to safely cross the street and to only cross in a crosswalk. Children should only walk on the sidewalk.
If your child walks to school or to the bus stop, take a couple of practice trips and point out danger spots. Make sure the child takes the same route every day.
School bells are a reminder for everyone to be safe during the school year.
Be alert and drive safely near schools or school bus stops. And children, remember to look both ways before you cross.