Chuck Martinez-Brandon

It’s official.

Across our northwest Ohio, six-county area, school is in session.

For some parents, and non-parents alike, it’s a time to rejoice. A time to get you and your children’s day-to-day back to normal.

For others, it’s a time of sadness.

Vacations are a distant memory, summer jobs have come to an end and the extra time with your pride-and-joys will be limited to the dinner table and a few select weekend activities.

No matter your point of view, the beginning of the school year has at least one common thread for all of us.

That commonality is safety.

Not building safety, although all of our area schools have grown by leaps and bounds in the area of keeping our kids safe during the school day. Local officials all take pride in ensuring parents that children are supervised, overseen and secure from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

But what about the hours and minutes before and after children arrive or leave their school?

Safety during bus rides to and from school have become the focal point for many area school districts.

That should also be the case for those of us that are driving in and around school buses and school zones too.

The Clinton Street “bridge hole” has turned the area in and around Domersville Road into a scene from a “Mad Max” movie. And that should have many of us worried now that our children will be traveling that route on buses and in cars of their own as they head to school, sporting events and other school-related activities.

So as we travel about this school year let’s take a minute to not only slow down, but take a quick refresher on laws for other drivers while around a bus:

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus must stop from both directions.

Other vehicles must stop 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals other drivers to proceed.

If a bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction must stop.

With those rules in mind, remember violations are ticketable offenses.

Also take note that many area school districts have added cameras to their school buses to help bust violators. And yes, if caught on camera, you will receive a ticket in the mail.

And while many of our students get to and from school on the old yellow school buses, many more get there by driving themselves, their friends and their siblings.

Remember some of these drivers may not even be 16 years old yet, and their only driving experience is knowing the answers they memorized to questions on the permit test.

So remember many of the drivers out there aren’t doing things just to make you mad or to ruin your day. Many are learning by taking on the biggest responsibility of their young lives.

Maybe you’re less Immortan Joe and more Mel Gibson. Maybe you’re channeling your inner Walker, and your goal is to protect our children while Tina Turner sings about heroes in the background.

If so, the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office might have an event you’d be interested in attending.

Paulding County officials are inviting county residents to apply for the inaugural Citizens’ Academy.

The event will cover topics including: administration, payroll, budgeting, communiciations, road patrol, civil process and an overview of the justice system.

So as we strap ourselves into our two-ton metal boxes, let’s try to slow down and drive courteously and give our children an example to live by behind the wheel instead of being a what-not-to-do answer on their driver’s test.

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