Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2017

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356

NOTE TO EDITORS: This is the second of four news releases DHHS will send with schoolrelated topics as families prepare for the start of classes this month.

Getting to School Safely – Tips for Students/Parents
Part Two of the DHHS Back-to-School Series
Lincoln – As summer nears an end, back-to-school season is gearing up. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reminds you to safely share the roads with school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists, and provide children with the knowledge to get to and from school safely.
Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they - and the motorists around them - take proper safety precautions.
To help prevent injuries while walking to and from school, children can follow some simple safety guidelines:
  • Cross streets at corners where there are traffic signals and designated crosswalks.
  • Walk on sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
  • Be aware of cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Don’t run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Walking while distracted by technology, like cell phones and headphones increases the risk of injury.

Sharing the road with young pedestrians: Don't block the crosswalk when stopped. Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas. Remain focused on driving and don’t be distracted from driving by things like texting, using in-vehicle navigation, and eating. And of course, don’t drink and drive.

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus. Other safety steps for students include:

  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver has instructed you to get on.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

Sharing the road with buses:  Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

A properly-fitted helmet is the best way to prevent head injuries while biking, skating and skateboarding to school. Other safety steps for students include:

  • Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If not, ride in the same direction as traffic as far on the right-hand side as possible. 
  • Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road. Be predictable by making sure you ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars.   
  • For parents - ride with your children. Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own.

Sharing the road with bikes:  On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be harder to see. Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars and be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.

If your students ride in a car to get to school there are important safety tips to follow:

  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Younger children should use child safety seats and booster seats as appropriate for a child's age and size every time they ride in a vehicle.
  • If teenagers are driving to school, make sure they buckle up. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

Sharing the road with young drivers:  Parents can instill safe driving behaviors in their novice driver by modeling safe driving behaviors such as using a seat belt on every trip, not using a cell phone while driving and obeying traffic laws. Other drivers can use defensive driving techniques and have patience around other drivers so everyone can reach their destination safely.

Like these tips? Be sure to follow DHHS on Facebook and Twitter.