MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Students are taking their first steps into the schoolhouse, as summer comes to a close at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Whether they are walking to school, riding the bus or riding a bicycle, it is important for motorists to stay alert to help maintain a safe environment at the air station for children traveling to school.
It is imperative that motorists remain aware of school safety laws to prevent auto-pedestrian accidents. It’s equally important to remind school-age kids to be aware of their surroundings in an effort to maximize safety potential in the local communities and around the air station, said John Ruth, the safety and occupational health specialist with the Station Safety Office at Cherry Point.
“If you see a school bus, kids are usually somewhere within reach,” said Ruth. “It’s important to pay attention, watch for school buses and other drivers.”
It is illegal in all 50 states and at all military installations to pass a school bus that has stopped to unload or load children, according to the National Safety Council. Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are loading onto or unloading from a school bus.
For drivers approaching a school bus, the safe zone is considered 10 feet surrounding the bus, where children are in the most danger of being hit by an automobile.
Sharing the road safely with pedestrians is important. Drivers should take extra precaution in school zones and neighborhood areas where children may be walking, waiting for the bus or bicycling.
“This time of year, especially the first week of school, can be hectic,” said Ruth. “There are going to be children, first time teen drivers and parents trying to get to school, making the roads more congested than usual.”
Ruth advises parents to help raise awareness of appropriate school safety by talking with their children and making a checklist to help remind them about possible dangers along the road.
Common things to include are walking on the sidewalks, wearing a helmet when operating a bicycle and standing six feet away from the curb at the bus stop.
“Vehicle crashes can be tragic,” said Michael Granger, installation traffic safety manager with the Station Safety Office. “When those crashes involve our children and the schools’ transportation system, they can have a huge impact on the whole community. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness.”
All drivers must be aware of all local traffic laws and maintain awareness, especially during hours of increased traffic activity, said Granger.
“We can support and assist law enforcement by reporting violations and making the laws known,” said Granger. “Ultimately, we are ensuring that the road is not only safe for our kids, but for kids all throughout the community.”