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Back-to-school safety: Knowing the rules of the road

Contributed

August is Back to School Safety Month, and North Carolina Insurance
Commissioner Mike Causey, who also serves as Chair of Safe Kids N.C., reminds
students, parents and motorists to use extra caution as students walk, drive or
ride the bus to school.

“With children going back to school, our roads and crosswalks will be much more
crowded so it’s important that everyone compensates by using more caution.”
Causey noted. “It only takes one unsafe move to cause a tragic injury or death to one of our precious children.”

While students on traditional calendars will go back to school on Aug. 26, students
at year-round schools have already started boarding buses and have headed back
to class.

On a typical day, more than 14,000 school buses carrying nearly 800,000 students
operate on North Carolina roads.

Passing a stopped school bus can result in the motorist adding four insurance points
and seeing an 80 percent increase in auto insurance premiums.

Causey encouraged all motorists to watch for children walking to
school or waiting by the roadside for a school bus. And he advised motorists to
understand the rules of the road when a school bus is stopped picking up
passengers.

Causey also offered National Safety Council tips as students and
teachers head back to school.

For pedestrians:

• Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the street
or road, walk facing traffic.

• Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if
cars are coming.

• Never dart out in front of a parked car.

• Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets or
crosswalks when available.

• Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.

• Do not walk while using headphones.

For bike riders:

• Always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly.

• Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side
of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the
bike across.

• Watch for opening car doors and other hazards.

• Use hand signals when turning.

• Wear bright-colored clothing.

For bus riders:

• Teach children the proper way to get on and off the bus.

• Line up six feet away from the curb as the bus approaches.

• If seat belts are available, buckle up.

• Wait for the bus to stop completely before standing.

• If you must cross the road, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus.

For motorist, in addition to obeying the stopped school bus law:

• Don’t block crosswalks.

• Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and take extra precaution in school zones.

• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

• Stop far enough back from a school bus to allow children room to safely
enter and exit the bus. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most
dangerous for children.

For more information on how to keep children safe during Back to School Safety
Month or throughout the year, visit the website SafeKidsNC.org.