WESTPORT, Conn. – Regardless of whether they’re ready, students all across Westport will say goodbye to summer vacation Tuesday morning as they kick off the 2013-14 school year.
For everyone else in town, the start of the school year means the return of school buses and more traffic on the roads. To ensure everyone’s safety this back to school season, the police department offers the following tips for students, parents, drivers and bicyclists.
For Children – Getting on and off the bus safely:
- Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver.
- Get to the bus stop in plenty of time.
- Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus.
- Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting.
- Never reach underneath the bus.
- Always follow the driver’s directions for how to cross the street.
- Be alert to traffic and look both ways.
- Always cross in front of the bus, but only when the bus driver signals it is safe to do so.
- Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
- Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
- Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
- When exiting, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). Move away from the bus.
- Before crossing the street, take 10 giant steps out from in front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen. Wait for the driver to signal it’s safe to cross.
- Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
- Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses. However, not all do. Protect yourself and watch out.
- Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.
- Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus. If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.
- Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps that could get caught in the handrail or bus door.
- Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.
- If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
- Yellow flashing lights on the bus indicate that it is preparing to stop and load or unload children. This means cars need to slow down and prepare to stop.
- It is illegal to pass a school bus with its red flashing lights and stop signal arm are activated. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off or when the bus driver motions them through.
- Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop.
- Vehicles moving in the opposite direction as the bus are also required to stop unless they are on a divided highway.
- Never pass on the right side of the bus where children are entering and exiting. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
When Riding in a Car:
- You might have heard before that most traffic crashes occur close to home — they do.
- Safety belts are the best form of protection passengers have in the event of a crash. They can lower the risk of injury by 45 percent.
- You are four times more likely to be seriously injured or killed if ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
- Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats and little kids in child safety seats.
When Riding a Bike:
- Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard — never cross the street against a light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming.
- Walk your bike through intersections.
- Walk with a buddy.
- Wear reflective material — it makes you more visible to street traffic.