Keeping students safe on buses during the back to school season

Looking at safety concerns for buses, cars, kids

Law enforcement, school officials, and bus drivers are being reminded to slow down as road and pedestrian traffic increases now that school is back in session.

Lamers Safety Manager Becy Knaack has been a driver since the early '90s and says she's always talking with trainers and new drivers about the importance of a watchful eye.

"We kinda try to look in our driver's side mirror to see what's coming, or turn your head, or you blow the horn," Knaack said.

Knaack's message for drivers in school zones or near school buses is simple.

"Drive around that school bus the way you would drive if you had relatives on that bus."

As a school bus driver, safety is constantly on the mind - whether it's getting students on or off the bus, or where they sit.

"We try to keep, if at all possible, the back seats open. If the bus is rear ended, that's the worst place to be," Knaack said.

Knaack says she's continuously thinking about all the students, even more when it comes to reckless drivers. Milwaukee Police Department's Safety Division Manager Lishunda Patterson says she's not alone.  

"Not only just the police department, but also too, with Milwaukee Public Schools and private schools, we all should try to pay close attention," Patterson said.

Patterson recently prepared all the crossing guards on how to deal with traffic in or around school zones for the year.

"Realize that there are going to be more vehicles on the road, more school buses that are gonna be on the road, more parents that are going to be driving, so we need to just be very very mindful of that," says Patterson.

Both Patterson and Knaack say drivers should always prepare for students, young and old, to walk or bike near or in traffic. It's not enough to slow down because of cop cars or school buses that have the stop arm out. If you see kids, slow down, says Patterson.

"You can go the posted speed limit and if it's not posted, they should be driving 15 miles per hour in school zone areas," says Patterson.

Knaack says road safety begins at home for all students. Parents should talk with their students on how to cross the street, where to ride their bikes, and other safety precautions to and from school. 

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