The school year is under way, and Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang urges motorists to drive attentively and be ready for school buses, especially for children exiting school buses.
Motorists are reminded to anticipate children, especially in a school bus “danger zone” — the area around a bus where most injuries and deaths occur. Parents are urged to discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus.
In Minnesota, motorists must stop for red flashing lights and when stop arms are extended — both when driving behind a bus and when coming toward a bus on undivided roads. The Pequot Lakes Police Department and the Crow Wing County Chiefs Association take stop arm violations seriously.
The following tips are for pedestrians and motorists, and for parents to review with their school-age children:
• When getting off a bus, look to be sure no vehicles are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).
• Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, and make eye contact with the driver.
• Wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
• Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
• 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 from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
• Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.
• Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.), but they should remain alert for children.
• Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.
• Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.
• Watch and stop for pedestrians. The law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Every corner is a crosswalk.