School has started up already here in the Berkshires, and that means children will be waiting for School buses and walking to school. The National Safety Council has some tips to make it a safer school year for you and your kids. If you scroll down the page we have when schools are starting here in the Berkshires.

School days bring congestion: School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, parents are in a hurry in the morning trying to drop their kids off before work. It's never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present especially before and after school.

If You're Dropping Off
Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids.

The following applies to all school zones

Don't double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
Don't load or unload children across the street from the school
Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection

Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas

Don't honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way

Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

National Safety Council/YouTube

National Safety Council/YouTube

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually, they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of a collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
If you're turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
Check side mirrors before opening your door
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.

Adams-Cheshire Regional School District: Wednesday, Aug. 29

BART Charter Public School: Monday, Aug. 20

Berkshire Country Day School: Tuesday, Sept. 4

Berkshire Hills Regional School District: Wednesday, Aug. 29

Berkshire Waldorf High School: Wednesday, Sept. 5 (Back-to-School Potluck dinner, Aug. 31)

Clarksburg Elementary School: Thursday, Aug. 30

Central Berkshire Regional School District: Wednesday, Aug. 29

Farmington River Elementary School: Tuesday, Aug. 28 (Half-Day)

Florida (Gabriel Abbott Memorial): TBA

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School: Wednesday, Sept. 5 (Half-Day)

Hancock Elementary School: Wednesday, Aug. 29

Lanesborough Elementary School: Thursday, Sept. 6 (Monday, Sept. 10 Pre-K and K)

Lee Public Schools: Monday, Aug. 27

Lenox Public Schools: Thursday, Aug. 30

Montessori School of the Berkshires: Tuesday, Sept. 4 (Orientation Days Week of Aug. 27)

Mount Greylock Regional High School: Thursday, Sept. 6

North Adams Public School: Tuesday, Sept. 4 (K-8 and students new to Drury); Wednesday, Sept. 5 (Grades 9-12)

Northern Berkshire Vocational (McCann Technical School): TBA

Pittsfield Public Schools: Wednesday, Aug. 29 (Half-day for grades 1-5, 6, and 9, and kindergarten orientation); Thursday, Aug. 30 (Full day for all grades)

Richmond Consolidated School: Wednesday, Aug. 29

Savoy (Emma L. Miller Memorial Elementary School): Wednesday, Aug. 29

Southern Berkshire Regional School District: Wednesday, Aug. 29

Williamstown Elementary School: Thursday, Sept. 6 (Monday, Sept. 10 Pre-K and K)