Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2014
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This Month's Articles

Back-to-School Safety 101:

Hope for the BestÖ..Prepare for the Worst!

Telephone Alerts Available for Flooding Hazards

The War on Food Waste

Little Red School House Drive a Big Success!

A Herd of Folks at the Thurston County Fair

Making it in the Dry Years

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 Itís Back to School Time!

Sharing the road safely with school children

Itís that time again, kids are back in school and that means special attention is needed from drivers to make sure everyone stays safe on the way to and from classes.

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:

Here are some points to ponder-


  • 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 signal 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 street.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.


Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians


All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially 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. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation. In a school zone when warning flashers are blinking, you must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway.

Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or 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 parks. Donít 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.

Sharing the road safely with child bicyclists


On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane, but bicycles can be hard to see. The riders are exposed and easily injured in a collision. Oncoming bicycles are often overlooked and the speed misjudged. Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions.

When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do so slowly and leave a distance between you and the bicycle of no less than 3 feet. The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of the bicycle. Remember to always use your turn signals. Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.

Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding. Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.

You can find out more safety information by visiting Web Site.

By John Tennis

Share the road with buses and kids! Share the road with buses and kids!