Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

July 30, 2013

Keep an eye out for kids

With most local schools welcoming students in a couple of weeks — and Kokomo schools beginning class Aug. 8 (yes, a week from Thursday) — it’s important for motorists to think about safe driving as children travel to and from school.

Law enforcement officials soon will be reminding motorists to slow down and watch for school-age pedestrians and the increased presence of school buses on the roads.

Schools had only been in session a week when a convertible ran into the front of a Kokomo school bus at Webster and Boulevard in 2009. No children were injured. The driver complained of back injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Motorists should pay special attention in areas where children are present during the morning and afternoon hours. Drivers should be prepared to stop for children who may dart into streets near school zones, bus stops and in neighborhoods.

Children are especially vulnerable in areas with vehicles parked along the street, in high traffic areas, along roads with higher speed limits and in areas without pedestrian crosswalks.

Vehicles are required to stop when a school bus stop arm is extended. Failure to do so is a Class B misdemeanor that could result in 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Police will be watching for those disregarding stop arms or speeding in school zones.

Parents should also discuss school bus safety with their children. State police note most children are injured while trying to pick up dropped items within a 10-foot area surrounding the bus. Parents need to remind their children that when they lean down to pick up something, they’ll be dropping out of the bus driver’s view. Kids should always be sure to stay where the bus driver can see them, and they should always keep their books and papers in their backpacks until they’re safely home.

By thinking about safety first, students and parents throughout the area should be able to enjoy a happy and safe beginning to the new school year.

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