Michelle Mann

Yes, summer is over.

The 2019-20 school year begins Aug. 5 for Daleville City Schools and Aug. 7 for Enterprise City and Coffee County Schools.

The preceding sentence is meant to serve as a heads-up for drivers—like me—who will mark my calendar to find any alternate route to work than through a school zone for at least the first several weeks.

As thousands of students in Dale and Coffee County return to classes via foot, cars, bicycles or buses, please remember that many will be first time students, first time drivers or new families to the school system.

The schools each have very specific student drop-off procedures but it would be naïve to think that there will not be congestion as everyone is learning the ropes. Please be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Most people know that drivers must stop for school crossing guards until everyone, including the crossing guard, is back on the sidewalk.

Most people know that passing a stopped school bus with its lights flashing is against the law and that vehicles in both directions have to stop. The only exception is for vehicles traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

If you’re driving behind a school bus, allow a greater distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing.

If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. That is the law in all 50 states.

Don’t be that “distracted” driver who checks the message on their phone “for just a second.”

Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before backing up.

Young children riding bikes are sometimes inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Be sure to slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist.

Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.

Check side mirrors before opening your door.

Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason.

The safety tips are many but the general rule of thumb is this: Slow down, be diligent and use an abundance of caution.

In the words of the late great Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

A safe school year is the responsibility of all of us.

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.com.

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