By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Hard to believe many school districts have already started back to school. For many kids back to school brings a lot of emotions which include distractions reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Throw in this heat we’re experiencing and everyone including parents become agitated. So, let’s put our patience and common-sense hat on so we make back to school less stressful and safe for everyone!

As an adult, the back-to-school season brings another warning: Morning and afternoon commutes will now involve throngs of students walking, bicycling, driving, or riding buses to and from school. We were all kids once, so we know we can’t count on them to be paying attention. That’s why it’s important to use extra caution while driving in school zones.

Use the following information to spread the word of safety in your community:


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 75 school-age pedestrians are killed each year during school travel. These are preventable deaths! Let’s share some lessons and start a safety campaign in the communities we protect with these safety reminders:

  • It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped, and children are getting on or off the bus.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
  • Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk.
  • In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
  • Remember: Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds, and parks.
  • Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine, or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.

Now that’s just the first lesson. Now your homework is to share with members in your community, family, and friends!