How quickly the summer school break goes by.  It seems the schools just ended another year, and now it’s almost time to begin a new one.  There is much anticipation in the air, especially for students that will experience school for the first time, or moving up to middle school, or high school.  This is our reminder to you that our future generations are going to be either walking, on a bus, in a carpool, or riding their bikes to school.  It is our responsibility as drivers to slow down and pay close attention.

Our second reminder: be sure your kids have received all their shots that are required to go to school.  Free clinics are offering these shots, so now’s the time to take care of it.  This is as important, or more so, than all the school supplies they will be needing. 

Many states have laws that forbid drivers using cell phones in a school zone.  This is a good law, and one that persons shouldn’t mind abiding by.  Save that conversation for later, after you have stopped your car and gotten out of it.  We need to remind our teens that texting and driving don’t mix at any time, and more so when there are chances of little ones crossing the streets or getting off the school bus. 

Schools must put a stop to school bus bullying or physical encounters on buses.  Schools should have constant communication systems between the bus drivers and the main office.  In case of an incident, school officials or law enforcement should step in immediately.  We have seen incidents that have been recorded on cell phones.  The person doing the recording should be calling for help, as well.  They may be afraid of a confrontation with the bully or bullies, but school administration officials should have a zero tolerance for this type of behavior. 

Parents, go with your little ones for the first few times if they will be riding a bus.  Be sure they understand when to get off safely and never to walk in front or directly behind the bus; rather, let the bus pull away first.  If they are walking, please accompany them for a while, and if you can, find an older child that you know and trust to walk with them.  Be sure they understand to obey the school crossing guard, who is there for their safety, and only cross streets at the corner. 

Another tip for parents: don’t overload your child’s backpack.  Their little backs can only carry so much, so balance the books, pens, crayons, etc. to lighten their load as much as possible. 

For those drivers who go to work each day, leave the house a little early, to allow time to stop for school children or a school bus.  It’s better to get to work on time, if possible, so take those extra minutes to head out and pay attention to little pedestrians. 

Many of us grew up or raised our children in much more innocent times.  Our children are most precious; if you live in a neighborhood that is not completely safe, please don’t send your child out alone.  Be sure they go to school in a group.  All kids should be taught never to talk to strangers or get in a vehicle with someone they don’t know.   

These tips are reminders for all of us – drivers, parents, teenagers, teachers, bus drivers, and school administrators –  to do our best to make this a very safe year for our children.  We should commit to seeing that they are kept safe and secure at all times.