With Long Island kids going back to school this week, police are reminding everyone to be safe -- especially when it comes to school buses.
On Wednesday, Nassau County police sent out a list of school bus safety tips, addressing a bevy of safety issues -- from how to safely enter and exit a bus to rules drivers must obey when encountering one.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said getting on and off a school bus is "the most dangerous" part of any bus ride, adding that pedestrian fatalities involving the loading and unloading of passengers remains three times as high as occupant school bus fatalities.
More than half of those pedestrian fatalities, Krumpter said, are students ages 5 to 7; mostly, he said, because they're in the so-called "danger zone" -- an area within 10 feet of the bus on all sides, which blocks the view.
Young children are most likely to be struck, police said, because they're in a rush to get on the bus. Or, to get off one.
They also don't stay within view of the bus driver, police said, and often assume drivers will see them -- and they'll be safe. Which isn't always true.
Police said students should arrive early at their bus stop and should remain about 10 feet from their bus until it stops because dangling objects, from book bags to clothing, can get caught or snagged.
Children should never lean out a bus window, either, Krumpter said in his advisory.
Drivers also need to understand that it is illegal, in all states, to pass a school bus that is boarding or de-boarding kids. Police reminded drivers to "slow down" if they encounter a bus flashing yellow hazard lights, reminding them to be prepared to stop. They reminded drivers that flashing red lights mean the bus has stopped to welcome students aboard -- or, to deboard them. That means those drivers must stop, too, police said.
The biggest keys, police said, for drivers and students alike, is to slow down, to pay attention. To be alert, to be be safe.