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Editorial: It's school time, drive careful and safely

It is the traditional end of summer and the start of school is already here for some or about to begin Tuesday.

This change of season brings old dangers as youngsters begin the new school year and will walk or ride the bus to school.

It is time for drivers and children to pay attention to pedestrian and school bus safety.

There is a new penalty in Minnesota for drivers who carelessly drive through a school bus stop arm signal.

As of Aug. 1, a violation of a school bus stop arm can result in a $500 fine.

This is an all too common violation across Minnesota. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, more than 700 stop-arm violations were reported in just one day during the annual School Bus Stop Arm Survey earlier this year.

Here are some school bus safety tips from the State Patrol's Sgt. Jesse Grabow:

• Motorists must stop at leasts 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and or its stop arm/

• Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are entering or exiting the bus.

• Altering your route and/or schedule to avoid a school bus route is a way to improve safety.

• Keep an eye out for school crossing patrols and pedestrians.

• Watch and stop for pedestrians on all street corners and marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Another point of safety is to limit your vehicles to the school zone speed limits during school zone hours. Law enforcement personnel are especially watchful during the first few days of school. A speeding ticket in a school zone can be costly for a driver, so don't speed.

When following a school bus, remember that school buses are required to stop at railway crossings. Other motorists should be prepared to stop behind them.

Most importantly, slow down, be aware and don't text and drive.