It's back to school time; watch for the youngsters

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2010

School begins this Tuesday for more than 9,000 Kenai Peninsula youngsters. For many families that means falling back into daily travel routines that we haven't had to deal with for three months.

Crosswalk zones become active again, school buses will begin making their morning and afternoon rounds through our neighborhoods and youngsters of all ages will be on our highways, streets and curbs.

And before we know it, they will all be out there in the dark.

Flashing yellow lights. Folks in fluorescent vests with stop signs on long poles. Mini herds of tiny people, either running and giggling down the side of the road or huddled on a bus stop somewhere.

The visions coming back to you now? Good. We'd hoped they would.

This is a reminder that the end of summer vacation means traffic safety takes on new importance, and a new dimension.

Drivers, slow down around school zones. Pay special attention when driving to work for youngsters along the roadsides.

When following a school bus, watch for and expect stops, especially in neighborhoods. The retracting stop sign on the left side of the bus is a legitimate traffic sign -- it means "Stop." Driving around the bus when the sign is out is a moving violation.

Parents, make sure your young ones know basic safety rules: stay within designated pedestrian road crossings when available, walk against the traffic direction, keep your head up and be aware. Stay in groups, if possible.

And parents, get some kind of reflective material on their outer clothing, especially as winter darkness sets in.

One other issue to consider: Tuesday, Aug. 24 is both first day of school and primary voting day. Another reason to be extra watchful if your polling place is at or near a school.

And P.S. -- the school district has a new, searchable function for bus schedules. You'll find the link on the district's web site:

In short: School's in session. Use the roads safely and let the kids get to class.

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