New Castle News Opinion

It’s just about here — time for school to be back in session after a summer break.

No doubt, stores both physical and online are busy stocking and selling everything from clothes and book bags to binders and pens.

But these aren’t the only preparations that should be prominent on the back-to-school to-do list.

We join with Pennsylvania State Police in reminding motorists that they soon will be experiencing increased traffic on local roads and highways during the morning and afternoon hours.

Traffic volume will be more than we’ve seen since early June as school buses, teachers, other school staff members and students in their personal or family cars take to the roads.

If your drive to work coincides with a school bus route, you can expect to be stopping multiple times along the way. Rather than allowing frustration to mount, plan to leave a few minutes earlier than you have been doing to allow for these travel interruptions.

Parents of students who drive to school should be sure that their son or daughter is familiar with the way there, familiarizing them as well to areas where they may be likely to encounter traffic delays. These teens should have a planned morning, get-ready-for-school routine so that when they get behind the wheel, they are neither too frazzled by sleeping in too late and rushing to get ready, nor too tired by getting up earlier than they have been used to doing for a couple of months.

They should also be reminded of the importance of focusing on the road, with music turned down and absolutely no texting or cell phone use while driving.

If they are driving friends to school, the young driver should impress upon them that the car is no place for antics that may prove distracting. The student driver also should be reminded to wear a seat belt, and to insist that his or her passengers do the same.

And, of course, the student driver may be just as likely to be following or approaching a school bus when that vehicle’s yellow lights begin to flash.

Parents should be sure that their teen knows and observes the law when this happens.

Drivers young and old both must be alert to reduced school zone speed limits. Suddenly, areas through which they routinely have been driving at everyday legal speeds will have 15 mph limits as students arrive and leave school each day. Motorists must consider first and foremost the safety of the students, but also the balance in their checkbook. Depending on how fast the driver is going, the ticket could be as much as $500.

Students who take the school bus also should follow some basic safety rules. These include:

•Arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes for the bus is scheduled to arrive.

•Staying out of the street while waiting on the bus.

•Not walking in the in driver’s “blind spot,” an area that extends about 10 feet from the front of the bus.

•Remaining seated with head and arms in the bus at all times.

•Not shouting or otherwise distracting the driver.

As the first day of school approaches, we urge all residents — whether they’re driving, riding or walking — to exercise extra caution. The lessons to be learned this school year should be positive, not tragic, ones.

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