KANSAS (KSNT) – Three Kansas organizations came together to address several safety issues facing students as they return to their classrooms this year.

The Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas State Department of Education and Safe Kids Kansas put out a list of safety tips to help encourage parents to talk to their children about how to stay safe. The first issue concerns pedestrian safety as, according to the KHP, around 17 people die every week in the U.S. and thousands more are injured in vehicle accidents. A 13% increase has been recorded among teenagers since 2013 in pedestrian deaths and now account for about half of all pedestrian deaths among people 19 and younger.

“Distraction is a problem for both drivers and pedestrians,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “If your student is walking or biking to school, be sure to stress the importance of putting electronic devices away, especially before crossing busy streets or navigating traffic in parking lots. And, adults need to follow our own advice. Give the road your full attention so you can watch for school zones and kids biking and walking to school.”

The following safety tips come highly recommended from the KHP, KSDE and SKK:

  • Put devices down while crossing the street and getting onto or off the bus.
  • Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives.
  • Make sure your carpool is safe.
  • Receive a pre-participation physical exam.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Check playgrounds where your children play.
  • Whether walking or driving, obey all traffic signals.

Being aware of school buses is also a priority for motorists, according to the KHP and Kansas Department of Transportation.

“School buses carry the youngest Kansas citizens, and their safety is of utmost importance,” said LT Candice Breshears. “Put distractions away and pay attention so that children are safe when entering and exiting school buses, and always stop for buses that are loading and unloading children with their lights and stop arms activated.”

Some tips people can follow regarding school bus safety can be found below:

  • Be alert.
  • If you see a bus ahead, slow down in preparation for its stop.
  • Know that it is illegal to pass a school bus stopped for loading/unloading.
  • Learn the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions.
  • While stopped behind a bus, motorists should put all distractions away and give their full attention to the road.

Finally, mental health and wellness of students should be taken into consideration. Resources are available to help students and schools remain safe places for all.

“With safety being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we want to remind parents and students that if you hear or see something, say something,” said John Calvert, head school safety, KSDE Safe and Secure Schools Unit. “Parents should talk with their students about all of the school safety resources available to report acts of violence, bullying and suspicious activity. There is a caring community always available to support students.”

The Kansas School Safety Hotline can be reached at 1-877-626-8203 toll-free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Parent and Youth Resource Hotline can be reached at 1-800-Children. The Suspicious Activity Report used by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation can be accessed online here.