Remember, children may not always stay on the sidewalk or inside crosswalk lines, so you need to be extra careful. Morning traffic is increased by parents and others driving children to school so you should also watch out for other vehicles slowing down or suddenly stopping to let children out near schools.
Motorists are not the only people using highways. We share the highway with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, large trucks and buses, and animals. Most wrecks can be avoided with a little caution. 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.
We as motorists must use extra caution when schoolchildren and school buses are in the area, and we have to be prepared to stop for the school bus. Remember to drive safely in school zones and obey the school zone speed limits. Pay particular attention for children while school buses are loading and unloading students. Stop your vehicle for school buses doing so. Never pass a stopped school bus. Watch for children and pedestrians crossing the street.
Students riding a school bus also have a responsibility. Students are responsible for their behavior and self-control on the bus and at bus stops at all times. Get to the bus stop in plenty of time. Stay about 10 feet away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop, as well as away from the road while waiting on the bus. Wait until the bus driver tells you it is safe to board the school bus, boarding one at a time using the handrails. Once on the bus, go straight to your seat and remain seated, facing the front of the school bus.
Students must look out for cars before getting on or off the bus. Once off the bus, after looking to make sure it is safe, move quickly away from the school bus. Also, students should wait for the driver or crossing guard to signal it is safe to cross the street. Always look left, then right, then left again, to make sure no cars are coming before crossing the road. Parents also should make sure their children know their bus route number, and they themselves should know this bus number.
Finally, we should recognize the hard work and commitment of school transportation professionals, especially the school bus drivers who ensure a safe journey for Tennessee students daily. Part of a great 2013-14 school year will occur if we have no accidents or injuries because Tennessee motorists exercise more caution. Help make our roads safer for everyone.
(Editor’s Note: This guest “Viewpoint” was written and submitted by J.C. Bowman, a Bradley County native and former teacher who serves as executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. He is a former chief education policy analyst for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.)