PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- It's that time of year again. New teachers, new faces, new students, new places. More than 23 million children have returned or are preparing to go back to school.

Every year during this time, parents spend a lot of time and money preparing their young people for the upcoming school year. They buy new clothes, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, and numerous other supplies. But how many parents incorporate "safety" as part of their school preparation?

Unfortunately, during a recent one-year period, 32 children (ages 14 and under) were killed, while an estimated 7,000 more were injured, in school drop-off related incidents.
Parents, drivers and students all play an important role in school safety.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, here are some traffic-safety rules everyone can use to help make this school year accident free.

Following these simple, common-sense practices can help your children get off to a "safe start" for the upcoming school year.


If your children will be riding bicycles to school, ensure they learn and obey the following bicycle safety rules.

• Check the bicycles to make sure the brakes and tires are in good shape.
• Always travel in the same direction as vehicular traffic.
• Use proper hand signals when turning the bicycle.
• Obey all traffic signals and signs.
• Always wear a protective helmet when riding a bicycle.
• Help your children choose the safest route of travel between school and home.


• If you are driving your children to school (or anywhere else), make sure everyone buckles up. Remember, seat belts save lives.
• You should always observe the speed limit; however, it's especially important in a school zone.
• When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
• When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be walking or riding their bicycle to school. They may not be thinking about their personal safety; but, as a driver, you should.
• Slow down. Watch for children playing or walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
• Watch for children playing or congregating near school entrances. Be on the alert for children arriving late for school; they may run out into the street without looking for traffic.
• Learn and obey the local school bus laws, and don't forget the meaning of the flashing signal light that school bus drivers use to alert motorists:

YELLOW FLASHING LIGHTS indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

RED FLASHING LIGHTS and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped for children to get on or off the bus. Motorists must stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop is withdrawn and the bus begins to move before they can start moving their vehicle again.
Remember: Passing another vehicle is never allowed in a school zone.


• If you have to cross the street in front of a car, walk on the sidewalk (or along the side of the road) to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the car before you cross. Be sure the car's driver can see you, and you can see the car's driver.
• Stop and always look both ways before entering or crossing the street.
• When exiting a car, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in the doors or seats.
• Never walk behind or between cars.
• Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of cars.
• If you drop something near a car, always tell the driver. Never try to pick it up without telling the car's driver, because he or she may not be able to see you.

Remember, on entering into a new school year, you can help assure the safety of our children by following these simple guidelines. Also, because of the large number of cars, students and school activities each day, school-time safety tips should not be neglected. Saving the life of a precious child will make everyone's efforts worthwhile.