Drivers can help keep students heading back to classrooms safe

Feb. 3, 2021

For more information, contact Katherine Benenati, 503-871-0388.

SALEM – It’s been a while since many Oregonians have seen school children walking or rolling through the neighborhood or had to stop behind the flashing red lights of a school bus.

With schools around the state going back to in-person sessions, drivers should remember their own ABCs – always be cautious and courteous.

Drivers should take care in their own neighborhoods, by bus stops and in school zones and keep an eye out for children and families. Slowing down and avoiding distractions – cell phones, loud music, even conversations – will help you react more quickly. That’s especially important because children are going back to school while the days are still shorter – and darker.

Keep in mind that children aren’t the best at gauging distance and speed or knowing when it’s safe to cross a street. They’re also, well, kids, so they may dart into the street to catch a bus without checking for traffic.

Here are some things drivers can do to make sure students are safe as they head back to classrooms:

By school zones and in your neighborhood

  • Slow down – A safe speed may be below the posted speed.
  • Drive for conditions – This time of year is often rainy and foggy limiting visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians so keep those headlights on to help others see you. Roads may be icy.
  • Take care backing up – Remember children may be walking to their bus stop or biking to school.
  • Obey traffic rules – They’re there to keep us all safe. That means no U-turns, double parking, stopping in crosswalks or turning on red where not allowed.
  • Yield to pedestrians – At crosswalks, intersections or in the middle of the street.
  • Watch for school buses –
    • Drive with caution and prepare to stop for a school bus when its overhead lights flash yellow.
    • Stop when a school bus’s overhead lights are flashing red, no matter which way you’re traveling. Only proceed once the bus starts moving again and the red lights stop flashing.

At school

  • Obey drop-off and pick-up rules – Park, load and stop only in designated areas. Heed crossing guards.
  • Curb it – Pull to the curb instead of making children cross the street.
  • Be on the lookout – Watch for children, other vehicles and buses.

There’s one more thing drivers should always do – plan ahead. Use alternate routes if possible and give yourself extra time if you plan to drive near a school when students are being picked up or dropped off.

Learn more about pedestrian safety and ODOT’s Safe Routes to Schools Program.

Slow down for kids