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Editorial: Be safe drivers as schools open doors

As area school districts open their doors to students Tuesday, we want to make sure kids get to and from school safely.

With the weather still nice many students will likely be walking or riding bicycles to school.

The Minnesota Safety Council offers the following tips to help keep your children safe when traveling to and from school whether by walking or riding the bus.

Parents should choose the safest route and walk it with their children. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings. Teach children to obey all traffic signals and markings. Children should be taught the meaning of all traffic markers (for example, a flashing “walk” sign is not an automatic “go” signal.)

Make sure children look to the left, to the right and to the left again for moving vehicles before crossing the street.

Teach children not to enter the street from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs. Darting into the street accounts for a significant number of pedestrian injuries among children ages 9 and under.

Because drivers have a more difficult time seeing pedestrians, warn children to be extra alert in bad weather.

Be a good role model. Children imitate their parents and model their behavior. Your children need you to tell them and show them how to be safe pedestrians.

For those children who ride the bus, parents should teach about the 10-foot danger zone around the school bus, where the driver can’t see children on the ground. Young children should take eight giant steps away from the bus to be sure the bus driver can see them. Older kids who must cross the street should look to the bus driver for an OK sign before crossing, and always cross in front of the bus.

Kids tend to run toward the bus – don’t let them. Kids should stand on the grass or sidewalk while waiting for the bus and not enter the street until the driver has opened the door of the bus.

The bus driver and others cannot see a child standing within 10 feet of the bus. Stay out of the danger zone. Also, if something falls under or near the bus, a child should tell the driver. Never try to pick it up.

Make sure to go over bus safety with your children. While on the bus, the Minnesota Safety Council says children should observe the following safety rules:

n When getting on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing.

n Be alert to traffic. When getting on or off the bus, look left, right, left before entering or crossing the street.

n Remain seated at all times and keep the aisles clear.

n Don’t throw objects. Don’t shout or distract the driver unnecessarily.

n Keep head and arms inside the bus at all times.

Drivers too need to watch out for kids walking to and from school and be aware of buses stopping to pick up kids. If we all follow these guidelines we should have a safe school year.