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Superintendent News & Views

Getting Our Kids to School Safely is EVERYONE’S Business

October 14, 2016
David Hill - North Tama Superintendent , Traer Star-Clipper

Getting children to and from school safely each day is serious business, and EVERYONE in our communities can play a role in keeping our children safe. The week of October 17 is National School Bus Safety Week. While the national observation of the week focuses specifically on bus safety, I think it also gives us a good opportunity to review some things that EVERYONE in our communities can do to help keep our students safe as they travel to and from school, regardless of their mode of travel.


According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in accidents on the way to school are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. Remember, children this young don't always follow the rules and they don't always understand who has the "right of way" in various situations. Here are a few precautions motorists take to keep kids safe:

WATCH YOUR SPEED. When you are in a hurry, posted speed limits can seem like an unnecessary annoyance; however, they are designed for the safety and protection of pedestrians and motorists alike. The number one thing motorists can do to avoid an accident is to keep their speed down.

KEEP THE PATH CLEAR. Don't block crosswalks when stopped at an intersection, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.

WAIT TO PASS. Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians or stopped to drop off/pick up students.

THINK BEFORE YOU HONK. Don't honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian or "make a point" with a student, even if they aren't following the rules of the road. You may cause a distraction that actually causes an accident.

YIELD THE WAY. Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas. Even in cases where you may have the right of way, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing at crosswalks, intersections, or even those who may be inappropriately crossing in the middle of the street.


If you're following a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. Passing a school bus that is stopped to load or unload students is illegal, and the fines assessed for this infraction are VERY hefty. Here are a few other suggestions for motorists that can help to avoid a tragedy:

WATCH FOR LIGHTS. If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. Never pass a bus if it is stopped to load or unload children.

GIVE THEM SPACE. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

BE AWARE OF DELAYS & CHANGES. Even if you don't have kids in school, it's a great idea to watch one of the local TV stations to know when school is delayed or releasing early due to fog, snow, or ice. Perhaps you aren't accustomed to seeing buses and walkers on the road at 9:30 a.m., but when there is a two-hour delay, you'll want to be extra cautious at this time.

REMEMBER, THEY'RE KIDS. Children boarding or exiting the bus are often unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.


Even though statistics show that riding the bus is the safest way to get to school, every year thousands of students are injured in bus-related accidents. Many of these accidents can be prevented if children know and follow some basic rules for bus safety. It only takes a few minutes to review these bus safety tips with your children:

BE ON TIME. When students are in a hurry because they are running late for the bus, they aren't concentrating on safety. Too often, accidents result. Set your morning routine so that your child arrives at the bus stop or at the end of the driveway at least a couple of minutes before the bus is due.

STAY IN THE "SAFE ZONE." Buses have blind spots and many children have been injured because the driver simply didn't see them. Tell your children to always stay in the "safe zone" at least 10 feet in front of the bus.

AVOID HORSEPLAY. Bus pick-up points, whether a designated stop in town or at the end of a rural driveway, are not playgrounds. Goofing around while waiting for the bus, especially if play extends into the road, can be deadly. Make sure your children understand this danger.

STAY PUT. Students are often so eager to leave the bus that they often start for the front before the bus has stopped. Let them know that they should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before leaving their seats.

HEADS UP. A dropped book can turn into a serious accident if the bus driver doesn't see it. Tell your children to let the driver know immediately if they drop something while getting on or off the bus.

NO DISTRACTIONS. Kids may think that bus rules no shouting, no throwing things, etc. are just to keep them in line, but there are serious safety issues involved. They should understand the importance of never distracting the driver.

Yes, we do take time at school to review bus rules and safety guidelines with all of our students. So why are we asking parents to review this information with their children? Students can always use a review of this important and potentially life-saving information. If they know that their parents are in agreement with the school on these tips and guidelines, it will help them to better understand the importance. It only takes a few minutes to review these bus safety tips with your children. Please, take the time.

Our North Tama students represent the future of our communities and our world. Each one of them is priceless. THANK YOU for taking time to consider what you can do to help keep all of our students safe as they travel to and from school.

I encourage your feedback on this column, along with any questions you may have. You are welcome to visit my blog at where you can read all of my Star Clipper columns and leave comments if you wish. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @DavidRobertHill.



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