The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District is celebrating Bus Safety Week by reminding drivers to follow traffic laws and encouraging children to take safety precautions.

Jacob Walden, the location manager for school bus service provider First Student, says there are more than 150 bus routes around the Mat-Su Valley that drivers take several times a day.

He says about 9,000 students are bus riders.

Drivers are required to stop 30 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing. The exceptions are when a bus is on a highway divided by a median or barrier, or pulled off the highway in a loading zone.

Walden says the school bus drivers work hard to keep kids out of harm’s way, and drivers on the road need to do the same.

“Never, ever, ever get into a hurry when you’re around a school bus, especially when you see any kind of flashing lights,” Walden said. “That always means kids are going to be on the ground somewhere — could be 100 feet down the road, could be a mile down the road. Being in a hurry will never make up for an injured or even the death of a child.”

The district has tips for students who are going to and from their bus stops:

•     Wear reflective gear
•     Carry a flashlight
•     Buddy up
•     Take off headphones

Parents are also encouraged to help their children plan and use the safest routes.

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