Motorists need to practice back-to-school safe driving

We’re getting close to that exciting time of year, depending on who you ask, when our children will be returning to school.

Routines will change along with pedestrian traffic, bus traffic and parent traffic, and school speed zones will all come into play.

A time change will also soon be upon us, keeping it a little darker out there in the early-morning hours when much of the above activities are taking place. As always, we need to pay extra attention while driving and do our best to keep these kids and others safe.

To minimize any distractions, put down the cell phones, and don’t risk the welfare of a child just trying to get to school. Abide by the school speed zones as they are there for good reason. Don’t terrorize the crossing guards out there who are trying to help these kids. Bus drivers have a huge responsibility in this as well so make their jobs easier.

Some of the motoring public claim that the school bus lights and laws can be confusing. They really are not. If you are approaching a bus from either direction and see the yellow caution lights come on, this should tell you that the driver is preparing to make a stop and that you need to slow down and possibly stop if the bus has reached its destination. Obviously, if the red lights are on, you are required to stop whether you are behind it, approaching from the front, are on a two lane, four-lane road or in a parking area. If you have a question on any of these laws, contact law enforcement and an answer can be provided to clear up any misconceptions.

Don’t risk passing a bus in a “bad” area because you are in a hurry and too impatient for it to stop or pull over. You may be risking your own safety as well as that of everyone on that bus. We encourage school bus drivers to report any violations they observe or any reckless drivers they come across while doing their routes. We will gladly address any violations and take corrective action if at all possible.

School parking lots and other dropoff areas are also an area of concern. At times, there is a great deal of pedestrians and vehicles navigating around through these areas and both are usually in a hurry. Slow down, keep your eyes peeled, and proceed with caution. If you see a potential re-occurring problem that may jeopardize someone’s safety, let the school know or report it to law enforcement.

Kids walking to school don’t always pay attention or use the best judgement. Parents should identify the safest route possible for them to walk and give clear instructions to them. Parents may want to walk with them once in a while if possible as there can be benefits from that.

Aside from the various issues of going to and from school, I’d also like to remind people that communicating any safety concerns is paramount. Any knowledge of concerning behaviors , threats, or anything else that could threaten the health or safety of our kids should be reported to school officials and or law enforcement. We owe it to the kids.

Contact can be made directly or through the OK2SAY program which enables you to disclose information by phone ( 855-565-2729), email ( OK2SAY@mi.gov), text ( OK2SAY), online, or by mobile app.

Matt Djerf is the community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Calumet Post.

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