School is back in session for many Mississippi children and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) encourages everyone to make safety their top priority, especially in school zones.
Drivers can keep themselves and others safe by taking proper precautions, leaving earlier and avoiding distractions.
“Be alert in school zones and near school buses to keep Mississippi students safe,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “An accident can occur quickly if drivers are not cautious.”
During drop off and pick up times, schools can be busy with traffic. If possible, carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school. Use designated areas to avoid loading or unloading children across the street from their school.
Buses help move a large number of students. If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop paddle is extended, traffic must stop to allow children to safely cross the street. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children because visibility can be reduced. Stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
“Never pass a bus from behind or from either direction if you’re on a two-lane road. Traffic should be completely stopped so children can safely cross the street,” McGrath said.
Motorist should also remember to share the road with pedestrians and bikers. Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, especially when flashers are blinking in a school zone. For bikers, motorists should only allow at least three feet of space when passing.
Pedestrians and bikers can do their part to safely arrive at school by being predictable and not making sudden movements around traffic. Pedestrians should use sidewalks and pay attention to traffic signs. Bikers should always ride in the same direction as traffic and wear appropriate safety gear.
“There are many ways to get to school,” McGrath said. “When people travel with caution and care, everyone can reach their destinations safely.”
Children learn from their parents and peers. Setting a good example and practicing safety can help create a positive transportation environment.