News: Rules of the road help keep children, pedestrians safe
Story by Paul Bello
WASHINGTON – The holidays are over and it’s back to school for students living on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). As parents and a community, it’s important that children receive a good education, but equally important they be safe when going or coming home from school.
School buses are generally yellow and use flashing red lights to alert motorists when they are preparing to stop. They also have an electronic stop sign arm that extends out to signal drivers to stop so children can get on or off a school bus.
The buses that transport students to and from JBAB, however, are not yellow. They also don’t have flashing red lights or an electronic stop sign arm. As it turns out, they are shuttle buses not uncommon throughout the National Capital Region (NCR), according to Sandy Casey, director of JBAB’s Safety Office.
“People may not realize they’re following a school bus because it looks just like any other bus around this area,” Casey said. “If it’s in a housing area, chances are it’s a school bus. We want people to be aware of this. It’s really important.”
All 50 states require that traffic on both sides of the road stop when students enter or exit a school bus. The area around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Drivers should stop their car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely get on or exit the bus, Casey said.
She encourages parents to also walk with younger children to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Children should wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and never walk behind it. Casey points out there are also no school crossing guards on JBAB, so it’s even more important to be alert. Some other important tips are below:
• If a child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach children to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
• Instruct children to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door. If your children drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
• Drivers should always follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for children who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
• Drivers should never pass a school bus on the right. It’s illegal and could have tragic consequences.
All drivers need to recognize special safety needs of children, as well as adult pedestrians. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections. As drivers, people need to exercise extreme caution to avoid hitting anyone, Casey said. On an installation like JBAB, there are many people that use the sidewalks. It’s also not uncommon to see service members out for a jog or some early morning or afternoon physical training. Below are some safety tips for pedestrians and joggers.
• Watch your walkways. It’s very important to walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Trucks or buses make wide turns and occasionally run up onto the corner of the sidewalk. Be alert and move back.
• Be careful of blind spots. Always assume the driver can’t see you and never walk behind a large vehicle when it is backing up.
• Use caution when crossing intersections and streets. Remember that trucks, cars, motorcycles and even bicyclists all have different ways of stopping.
• Make yourself visible. Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking or jogging at night. Dressing to be seen is very important and will make it safer for everyone. At night, it’s also suggested to carry a flashlight with you.
“What we want most is for people to follow the rules are parents taught us when we were younger. Stop, look and listen,” Casey said. “It doesn’t matter who has the right of way, pedestrians will get hurt if they’re not paying attention. They stand to lose the most.”