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Back To School Commuting Safety Tips for Drivers, Parents and Students

Published in Pediatrics, Women's Services, Emergency Services, Men's Health, For the Health of It Author: Jason McDonald, Injury Prevention Specialist, CentraCare Trauma Services

It’s almost that time of year again when big yellow buses will be part of the morning and afternoon commutes. It’s important for drivers to take extra precautions this school year and prevent injury or even death of a child. Here are a few reminders for motorists to brush up on before the first day of school to help keep kids safe.

  • It’s Minnesota State Law to stop for school buses. Look for the flashing lights and fully extended crossing arm. Failure to do so could result in a $500 fine, criminal charges, or result in injury or death of a child.
  • Stop at least 20 feet away from the bus.
  • Watch out for students and pedestrians walking/biking to and from school.
  • Find an alternate route to avoid the bus route if possible.
  • Keep an eye out for crossing guards.
  • Follow the rules of the school zone speed limits.
  • Stay off your phone and always keep your eyes on the road.

According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, more children are killed outside of a school bus than they are as passengers. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the danger zone — the area around the bus where most injuries and deaths happen.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children shouldn’t walk to the bus stop or to school alone until they’re between the ages of 9 and 11 and can demonstrate using good judgment. The AAP also recommends using a buddy system and arranging for your child to walk to school with friends

Parents should talk to their children about practicing good safety habits when they’re traveling to and from school.

  • Look both ways in all directions before crossing the street.
  • Before entering a crosswalk, wait for vehicles to come to a complete stop before crossing the road.
  • When waiting to get on the bus, wait for the driver to signal you to cross the street.
  • Stay on task at the bus stop. Avoid participating in any wild behavior that may put you at risk for injury or even death.
  • Never assume a motorist sees you. Always wait for vehicles to come to a complete stop before crossing the street.

Practicing safe driving habits and staying vigilant when traveling on foot can help prevent trips to the emergency room.