Back-to-School Safety Checklist

Sheriff John Root

As summer draws to a close, back-to-school season is in full effect.

Laurel County Sheriff John Root reminds parents, guardians, and motorists that safety should be a priority for every family as children return to classrooms this fall. It is important for parents to stay up-to-date on the proper safety precautions and share this information with their children to keep them safe throughout the school year.

Back-to-School Safety Checklist

Transportation Safety

Whether children are transported by their family or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they take proper safety precautions. Here are some tips to make sure your child safely travels to school.

Getting out at school

 Review your family’s walking safety rules.

 Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.

 Before you cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming.

 Never dart out in front of a parked car.

Riding the bus to school

 Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the


 Make sure your children stand six feet away from the curb.

 If your child and you need to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the

road until you are 10 feet ahead of the bus. You always should be able to see the bus

driver, and the bus driver always should be able to see you.

Never walk behind the bus.

If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up first because the driver may not be able to see you.

School Safety

Many school-related injuries are completely preventable. Follow these steps to ensure your

child’s safety at school.

Preventing backpack-related injuries

 Chose a backpack for your child carefully. It should have ergonomically designed

features to enhance safety and comfort.

 Don’t overstuff a backpack; it should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of your

child’s body weight.

 For example, a child that weighs 60 pounds should carry a backpack no heavier

than 12 pounds.

 Ask your children to use both straps when wearing their backpack to evenly distribute

the weight.

Behavior on the bus

When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Loud talking or other noise can distract the bus driver and is not allowed.

Never put head, arms or hands out of the window.

Keep aisles clear—books or bags are tripping hazards and can block the way in an emergency.

Before you reach your stop, get ready to leave by getting your books and belongings together.

At your stop, wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat, then walk to the front door and exit, using the handrail.

Getting off the school bus

If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road until you can turn around see the driver.

Make sure the bus driver can see you.

Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross.

When the driver signals, walk across the road keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes.

Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking.

Stay away from the wheels of the bus at all times.

Whether you’re getting on or off the bus, stay 10 feet ahead of the bus when crossing the street in front of it and never walk behind the bus.

Back to School:

Safety tips for motorists

Sharing the road safely with school buses

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. In fact,

according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13

times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. The

reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as

passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians,

four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped

school bus. For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for

sharing the road safely with school buses:

 All 50 states have a law making it illegal

to pass a school bus that is stopped to

load or unload children.

 School buses use yellow flashing lights

to alert motorists that they are preparing

to stop to load or unload children. Red

flashing lights and an extended stop sign

arm signals to motorists that the bus is

stopped and children are getting on or off

the bus.

 All 50 states require that traffic in both

directions stop on undivided roadways

when students are entering or exiting a

school bus.

 While state laws vary on what is required

on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic

behind the school bus (traveling in the

same direction) must stop.

 The area 10 feet around a school bus is

where children are in the most danger of

being hit. Stop your car far enough from

the bus to allow children the necessary

space to safely enter and exit the bus.

 Be alert. Children are unpredictable.

Children walking to or from their bus are

usually very comfortable with their

surroundings. This makes them more

likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail

to look both ways when crossing the


 Never pass a school bus on the right. It

is illegal and could have tragic


Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians

All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that

are children. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all

intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are

obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.

 Drivers should not block the crosswalk

when stopped at a red light or waiting to

make a turn. Do not stop with a portion

of your vehicle over the crosswalk.

Blocking the crosswalk forces

pedestrians to go around your vehicle

and puts them in a dangerous situation.

 In a school zone when a warning flasher

or flashers are blinking, you must stop to

yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian

crossing the roadway within a marked

crosswalk or at an intersection with no

marked crosswalk.

 Always stop when directed to do so by a

school patrol sign, school patrol officer or

designated crossing guard.

 Children are the least predictable

pedestrians and the most difficult to see.

Take extra care to look out for children

not only in school zones, but also in

residential areas, playgrounds and


 Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or

do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian

in front of your car, even if you have the

legal right-of-way.


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