New Albany, MS — As summer vacation comes to an end, yellow school buses, new teen drivers and other young travelers will join the daily commuters in the morning traffic. Although many will be focused on getting to school or work on time, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) encourages all Mississippians to make safety their top priority.
Students all over Mississippi will take to school buses, carpool lines, bicycles and sidewalks to return to their classrooms. With schools back in session, MDOT reminds motorists to share the roads safely with proper precautions. According to the National Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS), more children are hit by cars near schools than any other location. With the school year beginning, it is imperative for motorists to travel with care through areas where children are present, especially school zones.
MDOT offers many resources for driver safety education, including programs for parents, teens and educators at GoMDOT.com/safetyeducation. MDOT’s Survive Your Drive Y’all includes multiple safety education programs designed to encourage preventative safety measures, provide community outreach and raise awareness about the importance of seat belt usage, child passenger safety, and the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. MDOT’s SRTS Program promotes and enables children in kindergarten through 8th grade to choose walking or bicycling as their means of transportation to and from schools.
MDOT suggests the following back-to-school safety tips for drivers:
- Don’t park alongside another parked vehicle; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from their school
- If possible, carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
- Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at red lights or while waiting to make a turn. This often forces pedestrians to walk around the vehicle and enter the path of traffic
- Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, especially when flashers are blinking in a school zone
- Always stop for crossing guards and patrol officers
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Allow for a greater following distance behind a bus than if you were driving behind a car
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed slowly and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this. Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
- Always make sure you and all passengers are wearing seat belts
- Obey all speed limits
- Don’t make assumptions about what other drivers, cyclists or pedestrians are going to do
- Always watch for kids getting on and off school buses
- Don’t use a cell phone while driving
If motorists travel with caution and care, everyone will be able to reach their weekday destinations safely.
For more safety tips and information, visit www.GoMDOT.com/safetyeducation, or follow and like @MississippiDOT on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.