Bright yellow school buses that have been out of sight will be seen again as summer ends and class begins. Although getting to school on time is important, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) encourages everyone to make safety their top priority.
With school back in session, MDOT reminds motorists to safely share the roads with proper precautions. According to the National Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS), more children are hit by cars near schools than any other location.
“Be cautious in school zones and near school buses to keep Mississippi students safe,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “Remember how quickly an accident can occur in these areas and always stay alert.”
MDOT offers many resources for driver safety education, with programs for parents, teens and educators at GoMDOT.com/safetyeducation. MDOT’s Survive Your Drive Y’all is made up of safety education programs that raise awareness on seat belt usage, child passenger safety and the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. These topics are designed to reduce vehicle fatalities and serious injuries. MDOT’s SRTS Program enables and encourages children in Kindergarten through 8th grade to walk and bicycle to and from school safely. The program’s goal is to make walking and bicycling more appealing for student commuters and, as a result, encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.
MDOT suggests the following back-to-school safety tips for drivers:
When Dropping Off:
- Don’t park alongside another parked vehicle; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from their school
- If possible, carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians:
- Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at red lights or while waiting to make a turn. This often forces pedestrians to walk around the vehicle and enter the path of traffic
- Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, especially when flashers are blinking in a school zone
- Always stop for crossing guards and patrol officers
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
Sharing the Road with School Buses:
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop paddle is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Allow for a greater following distance behind a bus than if you were driving behind a car
Sharing the Road with Bicycles:
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed slowly and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to be unpredictable
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
New Teen Drivers:
- Always make sure you and all passengers are wearing seat belts
- Obey all speed limits
- Don’t make assumptions about what other drivers, cyclists or pedestrians are going to do
- Always watch for kids getting on and off school buses
- Don’t drive distracted, that includes cell phone use, putting on make-up, eating, talking to passengers, etc.
If drivers travel with caution and care, everyone can reach their weekday destinations safely.