Getting to and From School Safely

Photo | Mac Kennedy Local law enforcement are adding special school bus enforcement patrols to safeguard student safety this month.

Photo | Mac Kennedy
Local law enforcement are adding special school bus enforcement patrols to safeguard student safety this month.

Police are focusing on ensuring the safety of students as they travel to and from school each day. Maryland State Police are stressing bus safety for motorists, and Montgomery County Police released great tips for walking safely to school.

State troopers across Maryland will be joining their local law enforcement partners in special school bus enforcement patrols. Extra patrols will be deployed on school bus routes, and troopers will be specifically targeting motorists driving unsafely around school buses or ignoring the red flashing lights when a bus is stopped. Those caught breaking the law can be fined $570 and given a three-point penalty on their driver’s license.

According to the National Research Council. more than 800 students are killed going to and from school each year. This includes 131 fatalities to pedestrians, 46 to bicyclists, five who ride school buses and 15 pedestrians at school bus stops.

The National Safety Council has compiled the following tips for sharing the road safely with school buses:

  • When driving behind a school bus, make sure to allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind another car. This will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights begin to flash.
  • It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended, you must stop.
  • Make sure you’ve stopped far back enough to allow children to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Pay attention; children can be unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards.

For students who are walking to and from school, Montgomery County Police suggest that younger children always walk with an adult. When a child is old enough to walk to school alone, police have some safety tips for them:

  • Walk with a friend when possible.
  • Ask your parents to help you pick a safe route to school, one that avoids dangers.
  • Stick to the route you picked with your parents. Don’t let friends talk you into shortcuts that are more dangerous.
  • When you are near the street, don’t push, shove or chase each other.
  • Never hitchhike or take rides from people not arranged by your parents.
  • Talk to your parents and teachers about any bullying that may happen during your walk.
  • Be seen. Always wear bright-colored clothes and if it is dark or hard to see, carry flashlights or wear reflective gear.
  • Look for traffic. Watch out for vehicles at every driveway and intersection on your walk to school. Look for drivers in parked cars. They may be getting ready to move.
  • Special care should be taken to cross the street safely.
  • Stop at the curb or edge of the street.
  • Look left, right, left and behind you and in front of you for traffic.
  • Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing.
  • Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street. Obey traffic signs, signals and school crossing guards.

Montgomery County Police ask that parents and students report suspicious activity and people to the police immediately. In emergencies, call 911. For non-emergency situations, call 301.279.8000.

—From Maryland State Police & Montgomery County Police