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School starts; time for drivers to study up

Schools are back in session. Are drivers ready for bus stops and kids getting on and off the bus?

There's still time to study up. The newspaper received information from Sergeant Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol last Friday that all drivers should heed as they once again make the fall transition to sharing the roadways with school buses and child pedestrians.

As Grabow noted, "Traffic safety is a two-way street and everyone has an investment." Here are his tips:

• Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

• Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.

• Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.), but they should remain alert for children.

• Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won't find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.

• Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.

• Watch and stop for pedestrians. The law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners). Every corner is a crosswalk.

Students can also do their part to reduce the chances of getting struck by a vehicle while getting off the bus. Grabow urges parents to discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus:

• When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).

• Before crossing the street, take five "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the driver's face can be seen.

• Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross.

• Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

Let's make the upcoming school year as safe as possible and protect our most precious cargo: our children.