We sure can't believe it, but summer is nearly over with many schools starting back this coming week.
With schools starting, there will be more children not only walking to bus stops, but walking or riding bicycles to school. It also means more cars will be driving near them.
Although it may not seem like summer is truly over, drivers -- and children -- need to shift from vacation mode to safety mode.
The National Safety Council has found that most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking.
These incidents have happened when a motorist passes a bus illegally when it is stopped. The Safety Council wants to remind drivers to never pass a bus from behind or from either direction if you're on an undivided road where the bus is stopped for unloading or loading. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous place for kids, so make sure you give them enough room.
Every day in Kentucky, nearly 10,000 school buses transport more than 385,000 students, which is why it's important for drivers to be aware while on the roads. Officials said drivers not yielding to buses' stop signs is one of the biggest complaints during the school year.
It's not just one of the biggest complaints either. It's a major problem.
On just one day last April as officials were watching Kentuckians and buses, drivers illegally passed 726 school buses that were loading or unloading students. Some of those drivers were even passing on the right side of the bus where students are most present.
According to state statue, "If any school or church bus used in the transportation of children is stopped upon a highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, with the stop arm and signal lights activated, the operator of a vehicle approaching from any direction shall bring his vehicle to a stop and shall not proceed until the bus has completed receiving or discharging passengers and has been put into motion." The statute goes on to say it does not apply to vehicles approaching a stopped bus from the opposite direction on a highway of four or more lanes. But on a two lane road, both lanes are required to stop.
Failing to stop can be costly in more than one way.
People who fail to stop when a bus has its flashing stop sign arm out often don't realize that with enough evidence, usually bus surveillance video, drivers can still face repercussions for their actions.
It's not just drivers that must be aware.
Children riding their bikes to school should also obey traffic laws. Parents should make sure their kids are wearing the proper safety equipment, such as a helmet. Kids riding their bikes should be older, such as late middle school or high school aged.
For parents who let their children walk to school, make sure students know to be aware of their surroundings. When crossing streets, always wait for the crosswalk and look both ways for cars before entering the street. Just because the signal says "walk" doesn't always mean drivers will stop at red lights. Encourage kids to walk in groups or with an adult to ensure safety when it comes to walking to or from school. Always yield to pedestrians crossing the street or getting off and on the bus.
So drivers, slow down and be patient. Children and parents, be smart and vigilant. Let's all have a safe -- and happy -- school year.