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Staying safe in the new school year

Community Voice

With the start of the school year less than a month away, parents are buying supplies, clothes and backpacks. One important part of those preparations is reviewing critical safety information for children walking, biking or riding the bus to school. 

There are countless school safety resources online that will help you prepare a targeted safety training course for your child. Download useful school safety guidance documents from the National Safety Council’s Safety at Home program at

Motorists also are a part of the school safety equation. Careful and responsible driving is critical. Motorists must be mindful of the rules of the road regarding crosswalks, sharing the road with school buses, using cellphones and obeying posted school zone speed limits. 

One particular traffic concern is understanding the school bus safety signal system.  The two-color flashing system used by bus drivers is as follows:

• A yellow flashing light indicates the bus is preparing to stop. Motorists must slow down.

• A red flashing light and extended stop arms indicates the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

Another important traffic safety concern for motorists is text messaging and cellphone use behind the wheel.  Prohibitions regarding electronic communication devices are as follows:

Text messaging – Illinois motorists are prohibited from using an electronic communication device to compose, read or send a text message or email while driving, except in the following circumstances:

The driver uses the wireless device in hands-free or voice-operated mode; The driver uses the device to report an emergency situation and maintain communication until the arrival of emergency personnel; The driver uses the device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway or when the vehicle is stopped in traffic with its transmission placed in park or neutral.  

Diligent preparation is the key to ensuring children are given every advantage to succeed. Let’s all do our part to maximize health and safety throughout the school year.

Christopher Oakley is the assistant to the village manager of Carol Stream.

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