As summer winds its way through August toward the season’s end, area schools are preparing for students to return to the classroom.
Opening days for local school districts range from Aug. 8 when students in Lewis and Robertson counties are scheduled to start to Aug. 15 when classes will resume in Mason County and Augusta Independent schools. In between, Bracken County and Fleming County classes begin on Aug. 9 and St. Patrick students return to school on Aug. 13.
The start of a new school year means the return of the big yellow buses carrying precious cargo to area streets and highways and the return of school speed zone warnings that may have been suspended for summer.
State highway crews will begin activating traffic warning flashers at schools across the area next week as students and teachers return to classrooms, according to information from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
KYTC spokesperson Nancy Wood said all drivers should remember to slow down in school zones, obey warning flashers on buses and never pass a bus on undivided highways when the stop arm is extended.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are at the greatest risk not when riding the bus, but as they are approaching or leaving the bus. Before children go back to school or start school for the first time, it is essential that adults and children know traffic safety rules.
KYTC offered these tips for drivers:
— When backing out of a driveway, driving in neighborhoods or near schools zones, watch out for children.
— Slow down. Watch for children near bus stops, and stay alert. Put down the phone.
— Obey speed limit warning flashers near schools.
— Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state.
— Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions: Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Students should also practice caution:
— Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
— When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
— Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
— If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
— Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings, and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
— Never walk behind the bus.
— Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
— If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
More information about school buses and transportation safety can be found online at NHTSA’s web site: https://one.nhtsa.gov/Driving-Safety/School-Buses