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Review bus and pedestrian safety as students head back to school

School buses and crossing guards will soon return to city streets as children throughout Woodbury head back to school. It’s a good time of year to remind motorists to drive carefully, watch for children and observe all laws pertaining to school zone safety. 

bus stopStop for buses
Failure to stop for school buses when the stop arm is extended is a serious violation. The Woodbury Police Department investigates all complaints reported by school bus drivers. Owners of vehicles found in violation are subject to a traffic ticket regardless of who is driving the vehicle at the time of the violation.

Motorists should know what is required whenever the flashing amber or flashing red lights of a school bus are activated. The Minnesota State Patrol provides the following descriptions:

  • School bus pre-warning signals: The flashing amber lights are meant to warn other drivers that the school bus is preparing to load or unload students. Upon observing a school bus displaying flashing amber lights, be extra alert for children in the area and be prepared to stop. It is a gross misdemeanor to pass or attempt to pass on the right side of a school bus displaying the amber flashing warning lights.
  • School bus red lights and stop arm: When the school bus is stopped with its flashing red lights activated and its stop arm extended, traffic from both directions must stop at least 20 feet away from the school bus. Motorists must remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted and the red lights are no longer flashing. The only time motorists are not required to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing is when the bus is on a separate roadway. A separate roadway means a road that is separated from a parallel road by a safety isle or safety zone.

Pedestrians and crosswalks
School buses aren't the only concern with the kids going back to school. Pedestrian safety in Woodbury also is critical. The law is unequivocal: Drivers must yield to pedestrians.

Following are some additional school safety reminders for motorists:

  • Observe school zone speed limits. These are either 20 or 25 mph, and are clearly posted and strictly enforced when children are present.
  • Do not pass on the shoulder.
  • You must stop when a school patrol member has his/her flag extended at an intersection or crossing. Think of the flag as the red light of a traffic signal.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the roadway. Drivers must remain alert and yield to pedestrians at school crossings, crosswalks and unmarked intersection locations throughout the roadway network.
Also, remember that a new state law that allows a driver to use their cell phone only with voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone became law Aug. 1. Drivers may not hold their phones in their hand or use their phones at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone. 

To learn more about the hands-free law, including information on how to go hands-free, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.

Teach the children
While safety messages often go primarily to drivers, it's important for parents to instruct their children in safe crossing practices, and also in school bus safety. Children need to be shown how to judge if there is adequate time to cross a street. They must be alert and cautious at all crossings, and never enter a road from between parked cars.

Students also should be told to: 

  • Wait for the school bus at least 10 feet from the road - further if the weather is bad.
  • Remember that motorists may not always stop for the school bus as they should. When crossing the road, wait for a signal to cross from the bus driver, then look left, right, and left again, and continue to look and listen as they cross the road.
  • Never cross behind the school bus.
  • Stay out of the danger zones of the school bus (10 feet around the bus). Make sure they can see the bus driver and the bus driver can see them!
  • Wait until the school bus has come to a complete stop before approaching the bus.
  • Walk facing traffic on neighborhood streets where there are no trails or sidewalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers when crossing a street to ensure they see you. 

In addition, remind students not to "text and walk" when traveling to the bus stop or school. They should be alert and aware of their surroundings. 

Watch the Pedestrian Safety PSA

Questions relating to school bus or school zone safety can be directed to the Public Safety Department at 651-714-3600.

Teen drivers
If you have teenaged drivers in your household, be aware that they have a statistically higher risk of being in an accident than more experienced drivers. Before allowing your teen driver to climb behind the wheel and head to school, be sure you both agree on the boundaries and limitations of his or her driving time. Discuss when, where and with whom your teen is allowed to drive. Insist that your teen wears their seatbelt at all times. 

Construction on Upper Afton Road near Woodbury Middle and Woodbury Elementary Schools through October; expect delays 
As part of the 2019 Roadway Rehabilitation Project, the City of Woodbury has been reconstructing Upper Afton Road and traffic impacts are anticipated to continue through the end of October. The remaining work will require closure of the west end of Upper Afton Road between Century Avenue and Esther Lane.

The top layer of pavement at the intersection of School Drive and Upper Afton Road is scheduled to be paved in early October. Access to School Drive will be maintained throughout construction from Weir Drive.

During construction, vehicles, including school buses, will not have access to the schools from Century Avenue. Signs will be placed on both sides of Upper Afton Road with road closure messages that will be updated as construction progresses.

Staff understands this will be an inconvenience for the schools and parents. To reduce congestion and delays, the City encourages students with bus service to use the provided buses to reduce the number of vehicles in the area. We also encourage drivers to follow detour routes and avoid using residential neighborhood street to access the schools.

Please be aware that all scheduled construction is subject to change.

Learn more about the 2019 Roadway Rehabilitation Project