By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun
The first day of school is right around the corner on August 15, and that means pedestrian and bus safety are top of mind for many parents and school staff members.
Consumer Reports estimates that about 25 million children ride the bus to and from school. That leaves a lot of children in the Kern River Valley walking to and from bus stops in the mornings and afternoons.
Remember to look around your car before backing out of a driveway to ensure that no children are nearby. Additionally, keep an eye out and drive slowly through neighborhoods, especially those with no sidewalks. Be aware of where local bus stops are and watch for children playing or standing nearby.
Stay alert on main roads as well; neighborhood streets are not the only places buses stop. Main streets such as Wofford Blvd. also contain bus stops where cars may be slowing or stopping, and children may dart into the street when distracted or in a hurry.
If you see a school bus nearby, be aware of and observe all state school bus laws.
School buses flash yellow lights before coming to a stop, and all drivers behind or in front of the bus should be prepared to slow or stop. When the bus’s flashing red lights come on and a red “stop” sign is displayed, California’s Vehicle Code requires drivers both behind and facing the bus to come to a complete stop until the bus retracts its signs and turns of its red lights. This will mean that all children are either safely on board or unloaded. The only cars that are not required to stop are those on the opposite side of a divided or multiple lane highway.
Remember as well that schools have designated drop-off points for children, and drivers must be vigilant here as well. This includes being mindful not only of the small pedestrians, but of other drivers. Parents may be in a hurry, distracted, or new to the school – the drop-off area may be unfamiliar to them. At schools like Wallace Elementary/Middle School, sharing a parking lot with
Kern Valley High School makes less experienced drivers a safety factor to consider as well.
Remember to stay vigilant for young pedestrians at all times and make the 2018-19 school year safe and happy for everyone.