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Officials stress school bus safety

Local officials are reminding motorists to take care around school buses as school goes back into session.
Local officials are reminding motorists to take care around school buses as school goes back into session.

With the school season arriving, authorities are cautioning motorists to take care around the most popular mode of transportation for budding young minds everywhere – school buses.

Motorists can help keep young people who ride the bus twice a day safe by obeying speed zones in school areas, traffic lights and directions by crossing guards.

“It’s important for motorists to remember that children are walking to and from bus stops. Not just in school zones,” Coal City Police Chief Tom Best said. “It’s important to not only obey speed limits, but also pay attention to their surroundings as school starts back up and kids are walking.”

A common problem bus drivers at Channahon School District 17 encounter is people blowing off stop signs that extend from school buses, said Michael Schroeder, the school district’s chief school business official.

“It’s really intimidating our students who are very, very young,” he said. “And they can step into a stop sign [area]. When a driver passes a stop sign, they put everyone in danger.”

Schroeder said drivers should understand that, as they get closer to a school bus, the driver is less able to see them. He asked that students and others wait until a bus comes to a complete stop before approaching.

He also suggested getting students out to their stops early, so they do not have to run for their buses, he said.

Statistically, school buses are the safest transportation option for students. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take a bus than either driving themselves or riding with friends.

Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said police officers will write tickets to speeders, people who do not obey stop signs and people who drive while using their cellphones.

“We also have crossing guards in place to assist us and we want motorists aware of the crossing guards and to drive carefully,” he said.

In a news release, he also reminded residents to remember that local school schedules are staggered. Depending on the school, children could be on their way to class any time between 7:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Students may also get off from school any time from 2:43 until 3:35 p.m.

“The big thing is people need to get back into the mindset that school buses are going to be rolling,” Schroeder said.

• Obey traffic signs, speed limits in school zones and directions from crossing guards.
• Stop before red flashing lights when stop arms extend from school buses.
• If roadways are divided, motorists traveling in the same direction of the bus must stop.

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