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Editorial: Be safe driving around children

Tuesday marked the first day of a new year for students in Minnesota schools, including those in Albert Lea.

With the start of school means more children are on the roads, either walking or riding their bicycles to school.

Remember to share the roads with school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists, and to teach children proper safety habits.

According to the National Safe Routes to School program, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location.

People dropping off children at schools should make sure not to double park as this blocks visibility for other children and vehicles. Don’t load or unload across the street from the school, and consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped dress.

The National Safety Council suggests people follow the following safety precautions to keep children safe:

• Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. This could force pedestrians to go around you and in turn put them into the path of moving traffic.

• Stop and yield to pedestrians crossing crosswalks or intersections in school zones.

• Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign

• Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds, parks, residential areas.

• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

• If driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car.

• Never pass a bus from behind — or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road — if it is stopped to load or unload children.

• Stop for yellow or red flashing lights on a school bus.

• Stop far enough back to allow children space to safely enter and exit a bus.

• Be alert. Children can sometimes be unpredictable.