School bus safety reminders important to keep kids and drivers safe 

Drive carefully and be ready to slow down and stop when you are near a school bus. If you approach a bus with flashing red lights and/or showing a red “STOP” sign, it means that children are getting on or off the bus and you must stop.

With summer coming to an end, most of us are settling into our fall routines. Students are returning to school and we see more school buses on the roads as we dive into our busy schedules. When we’re late for work, school or other obligations, poor decision making can combine with a lack of patience and create a dangerous situation for school children loading and unloading from a school bus. There is a seasonal need to remind drivers to please drive safely and follow school bus safety regulations to ensure that an impatient impulse does not lead to a child’s injury or casualty. 

Already in North Oaks, there have been a few incidents early into the school year with reports of drivers passing a school bus while the bus was stopped with a sign extended and lights flashing. The law states: “Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and the opposite direction on undivided roads.” Drivers are reminded to come to a full stop when the sign is extended and lights are flashing, both oncoming and behind the bus, and to wait until the bus driver has turned the lights off and retracted the stop sign before proceeding. 

Parents of young drivers need to review the rules of safe driving and help them become safer and more patient drivers, particularly during typical bus drop-off and pick-up times and near school zones. 

Parents of school children need to remind their children to wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross, always look both ways before crossing the road, and to be ready at all times for an unsafe driver (children should keep watching traffic as they cross the road).

Freezing temperatures make school bus safety even more challenging and learning safety early will help raise awareness when roads become more difficult to drive on. It can be easy to forget the rules after a long summer or when we are running late, but safety must be observed by all drivers, regardless of age, experience level or any other factors. 

Residents can also improve road safety by calling the City and identifying foliage that impairs visibility down roadways; this will improve driver awareness of stopped buses and lead to better reaction time. 

We all need to work together on improving our road safety. By teaching our children to be diligent about road safety, teaching our young drivers about the importance of road safety and bus safety and by adults practicing patience with school buses, together we make this community safe and help to keep pedestrians safe from avoidable accidents. 

If you see someone breaking school bus safety laws or driving unsafely, please report them to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office or Deputy Mike Burrell immediately. Helpful information when reporting a road safety violation includes the make and model of the vehicle, license plate number, and a description of the driver. 

Here are some more good safety tips for bus-riding kids:

• Always wait for the bus off the roadway and in a single file line.

• Wait until the bus reaches a complete stop before attempting to approach the bus. School buses are large, heavy vehicles that cannot stop quickly. Be extra cautious around them, and stay outside of the school bus “danger zone” that extends 10 feet around the bus.

• Never cross the road until the bus driver extends the stop arm and signals it is safe to proceed.

 

— Kara Ries, 

North Oaks City Council

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