MADISON, Wis. (WNS) - With many private schools already in session in Wisconsin and the public schools soon to open, there are hundreds of thousands of young people to watch out for in neighborhoods everywhere.
Nick Jarmusz, public affairs director for AAA Wisconsin, reminded drivers about a fundamental rule of the road everywhere regarding school buses.
"Make sure that if the bus is stopped and they have the stop arm out, regardless of which direction you're coming at or where the students seem to be going, treat that as a stop sign in all directions," Jarmusz said.
Passing a school bus on the right is not only dangerous; it's against the law in Wisconsin.
Jarmusz said it's important to be aware of school zones, and the reduced speed limits that are in effect in those areas. According to AAA, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 25 miles per hour is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared with being hit at 35 mph.
He said extra caution is needed at intersections.
"If you're at an intersection that's not being patrolled by a crossing guard or a safety patroller and the students are using their own discretion, they're not going to always have the best judgment," he said, "so give them a little bit of leeway in case they make a poor decision and run out there."
Jarmusz said it's important to be more alert even when just backing out of your driveway, because neighborhood kids could be walking to school or to a bus pickup point.
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember while driving at this time of year is to leave a bit earlier and allow time for congestion, he said.
"Use extra caution and leave yourself enough time so that you don't feel the need if you do get stuck behind a bus at some frequent stops, and then you're running behind, and then you have the temptation even after you get away from the school zone or get away from the bus," he said. "Then there's the temptation to make up time and stretch the speed limit a little bit elsewhere - never a good idea."