Back to School Safety Tips

Flashing Red, Kids Ahead

Douglas County Fire District No.2 is reminding motorists to be extra alert this time of the year as Tuesday, September 3, 2013 marks the beginning of the school year for most schools in the greater Roseburg area. With the opening of the schools citizens should expect to see an increased traffic on roadways and streets, as teachers, parents, student drivers, and school buses make their way to and from school during week days.

This time of the year is without a doubt exciting for children, especially those that will be attending or driving to school for the first time. Unfortunately, it also means that during the school months young children are often times oblivious to their surroundings in the mix of the daily vehicular traffic; and therefore, at risk to be struck by vehicles or involved in motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 years old.

Motorists can greatly help in reducing the risk to children on their way to and from school by observing the following safety tips:

  • Slowing down to posted speed limits in school and residential areas
  • Watching for children present in the area when school buses, street crossing guards, and bicycles can be seen
  • Observing traffic laws related to school buses
  • Obeying all traffic signs and signals
  • Avoiding school zones during arrival and dismissal times
  • Adjusting daily travel times to allow for school traffic
  • Exercising extra precautions in bad weather

Drivers should be aware of school bus stopping laws, reduce their speed when following a school bus, and come to a full stop at a safe distance when the school bus stops and turns on its flashing amber and red lights and extends the arm with the stop signal. The stop must be maintained until the arm with the stop signal is retracted and the amber and red lights cease flashing.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading children. The only exception to this rule is when drivers are traveling on a divided highway with two roads separated by an unpaved median strip or barrier; drivers must stop only if they are on the same side of the road as the bus. A painted median strip or center lane used only for left turns do not create two separate roads. Where this situation exists, all lanes of traffic must stop.

Keep in mind, that children going back to school may have never learned traffic safety tips, or may have forgotten what they learned during the long summer break. That’s why it is crucial that motorists keep always caution in mind when driving around schools, areas where children walk to and from school, and school bus stops.