Miranda Mitchell takes a photograph to remember Brenton Sloan first day at Andrew Jackson Elementary. Photo by David Grace
Students throughout the Tri Cities are going back to school this week, and area police and sheriff's departments will be there too with increased patrols in school zones.
The National Safety Council offers the following tips for back to school safety.
Sharing the road safely with school buses
All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
All states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.
While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
Be alert, children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians.
Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.
Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections.
In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
Sharing the road safely with child bicyclists
On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane, but bicycles can be hard to see. Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions.
When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do so slowly and leave at least a distance between you and the bicycle of no less than 3 feet. Maintain this clearance until you have safely passed the bicycle.
The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of the bicycle.
Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.
Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.
Check side mirrors for bicyclists before opening the door. Some communities may fine drivers for collisions caused by opening a vehicle door in the path of a bicyclist.