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Driving carefully around school buses

Experts offer bus safety tips for motorists, parents and kids — just in time for the first day of school


REVIEW FILE PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - River Grove Elementary School substitute Liz Simmons greets children on the first day of school last year, including then-first-grader Ryley Hamness, as they come off the bus.When the school year beginsnext week, school buses will roll along their 47 routes throughout Lake Oswego, making it especially important for families and the community to know how to share the road safely.

The first day of school for grades 1-5, 6 and 9 is Aug. 30. On that day, 72- and 77-passenger buses from the Lake Oswego School District’s contractor, Student Transportation Inc., will begin trundling through town, mostly in the early morning and afternoon. (See Pages A20-23 for bus schedules.)

All other grades start class on Aug. 31. Kindergartners will be taking assessment tests Aug. 30-Sept. 1, so they’ll be around, too.

The Lake Oswego Police Department will do its part to raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues as school gets underway. LOPD Lt. Doug Treat said the department’s first school-zone enforcement operation will be held on Sept. 1. The grant-funded operation will be from 7:15-8:30 a.m. on Country Club Road, adjacent to Lake Oswego High and Lake Oswego Junior High. The speed in a school zone is 20 mph. Failure to obey the speed limit can result in a fine of $320 or more, Treat said.

Even if you’re going the speed limit, Doug Coupe, director of communications and investor relations for Student Transportation, says that it’s important for parents, students and all drivers to pay attention and play it safe. Coupe offers the following tips:

Drivers

— Be a defensive driver, as students may be running into and around the street and not paying attention to where you are traveling.

— Keep an eye out for students gathering near bus stops or on the side of the road.

— Obey all traffic laws near schools, including maintaining proper speed through school zones and keeping a safe distance from school buses.

— Flashing yellow lights mean the bus is slowing, so be prepared for the bus to stop for students who will are entering or exiting the bus.

— You should always stop when the bus has red flashing lights and the stop arm is extended, regardless of what lane you are traveling in.

— As students are exiting the bus, look out for children crossing the street.

— When near a bus stop or school drop-off/pick-up area, make sure there are no students moving in your car’s direction of travel before proceeding.

Parents

— Make sure your child is awake early, especially during the first week of school. Plan to be at the bus stop at least five minutes early.

— Pay attention to what your child is wearing and the backpack he or she carries. Articles Drawstrings, tassels or toggles may get caught in the bus door or handrails.

— If you meet your child’s bus at the scheduled stop, do so on the same side of the street where the bus comes to a stop to avoid the risk of having to cross a busy street.

— If you have to drive your child to school, be aware of the “Buses Only” loading and unloading zones and school procedures. Your vehicle’s presence in this area is a threat to the safety of bus riders.

— Request for bus stop changes can only be made by the school district.

Passengers

— No horseplay, pushing or running while waiting for the bus.

— Always wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the door to open before you move toward the vehicle. Do not run toward or after your bus.

— Never stop to pick up anything you drop near the wheels of the bus, under the bus or in front of the bus.

— When the bus arrives, if you must cross the street, wait for the red flashing lights and the driver’s direction. Remember to be sure the driver can see you.

— Never put your head, arms or any other body part outside the window.

— The Review