School is back in session in Iowa City for the 2017-2018 academic school year. 

Drivers should pay attention to protect the safety and well-being of students, teachers, crossing guards, and others as they make their way to and from classes and other activities. Drivers are also advised to be alert in construction zones. 

Safety reminders for drivers

  • Watch for students and crossing guards who will be crossing the street on foot or on bicycle before and after school. Always give children the right-of-way in crosswalks and school zones.
  • Be on the lookout for new teen drivers who may not have much experience behind the wheel, and in heavier traffic. 
  • Know when to stop your vehicle for a school bus:
    When a school bus is stopped, its amber or red lights are flashing, and the stop sign arm is extended from the side of the bus, you need to stop. Do not pass the bus from either direction. When meeting a school bus that is flashing amber lights, drivers may proceed (no faster than 20 miles per hour), but must come to a complete stop when the bus stops and extends its stop signal arm.
  • Watch your speed, the speed limit in school zones is 20 miles-per-hour, and are in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Safety tips for parents and students

1. Parents and children should walk or bike the route together before the start of school to look for any possible hazards, and identify a safe place to go if the child needs help.

2. Remind your child that if someone approaches them or makes them feel uncomfortable, they should not talk to them. Keep walking or riding.

3. Review street safety tips with children:

  • Stop, look and listen before crossing the street.
  • Never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Always cross at the crosswalk and obey traffic signals.
  • Stay on the sidewalk or bike path and do not take short cuts.

4. Review bicycle safety tips with children: 

  • Always wear a properly fit helmet, and make sure bike equipment is working properly.
    Need a helmet? The Iowa City Recreation Division, in cooperation with SAFE KIDS Johnson County and Bell Sports, offers bike and all-sport helmets for children and adults for $12. Purchase the helmets during office hours at either recreation center: Robert A. Lee, 220 S. Gilbert St., or Mercer / Scanlon, 2701 Bradford Dr. 
  • Follow bicycling rules: Ride on the right in the same direction as traffic, use hand signals when turning or stopping, and respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • For other bicycling rules, see “Kids and Bicycle Safety” from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to make you more visible to drivers.

5. Review bus safety tips with children: 

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Know your bus number.
  • Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus to arrive.
  • If someone offers you a ride, say "NO."
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least 6 feet, or three giant steps, away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the bus driver says that it's ok before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road until you are at least 10 feet, five giant steps, ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and that you can see the bus driver.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick something up before telling the driver, because he or she may not be able to see you. Similarly, if you forget something on the bus, don’t try to get back on until you get an ok from the driver to board.

6. If students will be at home alone after school, review home safety rules and who to contact in an emergency.
Iowa City Fire Marshal Brian Greer also encourages parents to go over fire safety procedures and emergency exit plans with their family this time of year.


Have a great, and safe, school year!

For more information, contact Sgt. Scott Gaarde at 319-356-5293 or Fire Marshal Brian Greer at 319-356-5257.

Date of publication

Thursday, August 24, 2017