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It is back to school season here in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, with public schools on both sides of the river kicking off classes this week. That means school buses are back on the road, children are back to walking and biking their routes to school, and traffic safety measures such as crossing guards and school zones are back in full effect.

For drivers, this means that it is time to remember and implement some safe driving practices to help keep our youngest commuters safe as they travel to and from school. Above all, remember that children often behave unpredictably and may not know or exercise safe practices themselves. Children do not have the same capacity as adults to assess risks and behave accordingly, so the responsibility is on you, the driver, to be extra cautious.

Share the Road with School Buses

School buses are one of the safest modes of transportation for children; the majority of incidents involving school buses actually happen when children are getting on and off the bus or are waiting for it to stop. Drivers have a big role in preventing these accidents.

  • Never pass a stopped school bus; it is illegal in every state
  • Be alert to the bus’s signals: yellow flashing lights mean it is about to stop; a red flashing light and the extended stop sign indicates that children are getting on or off.
  • When students are entering or exiting a bus, traffic in both directions must come to a complete stop.
  • Be alert. Children are unpredictable and may not practice safe behavior when walking to their bus stop, crossing streets, or waiting for the bus. Slow down and be ready to stop quickly.

Share the Road with Child Pedestrians

  • Never block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light, a stop sign, or when waiting to make a turn. No portion of your vehicle should interrupt the crosswalk. Doing so forces pedestrians to walk around your vehicle and potentially put them in a dangerous situation.
  • Obey crossing guards and school patrol officers. Stop when directed to do so and wait until the officer or guard signals that it is okay to proceed.
  • Obey signs and signals within school zones. This means slowing down when school zone speed limits are in effect. It also means obeying flashing lights that tell you to yield to pedestrians.
  • Again, remember that children are unpredictable and often difficult to see. Be particularly alert in school zones, residential areas, playgrounds and parks.

Share the Road with Chile Bicyclists

  • When passing a bicyclist, do so slowly and leave a distance of at least 3 feet between you and the cyclist until you have completely passed
  • Be very cautious when turning at intersections and yield to the bicyclist. The most common bike-car collisions happen when vehicles and bicyclists are turning.
  • Watch out for bicyclists in front of you who do not seem to be looking or using appropriate signals, particularly if they are children.
  • Watch for bikes coming out of driveways, and from behind parked cars or other obstructions.
  • Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers may be riding.

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