Five young children have been killed and six others hospitalized in the U.S. in recent weeks in what officials believe were distracted drivers who crashed their vehicles into school buses.

The five crashes that killed or injured children occurred in Indiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Florida. The Las Cruces Police Department reminds motorists to drive with caution, particularly when driving near bus stops and school zones. Speeding, changing lanes and passing other vehicles are three of the most common – and most dangerous – violations motorists make near bus stops and school zones.

Safety tips for motorists:

  • Stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children.
  • Be alert and watch for children near schools, bus stops and in school parking lots.
  • Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, especially the 15 MPH limit in school zones.
  • Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.
  • Do not change lanes in school zones.
  • Do not make U-Turns in school zones.
  • Watch for, and stop for, children in crosswalks and in school parking lots.
  • Do not text or otherwise use a cell phone unless it is completely hands-free.
  • Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
  • Unless licensed to do so, do not park in handicap spaces to drop off or pick up children.
  • Do not park in curbside lanes that are designated for emergency vehicles only.

Safety tips for students:

  • Parents of young students who ride a bus should escort their children to/from their bus stop.
  • Children should not stand or play in the roadway while waiting for, or leaving, a school bus.
  • Students who ride the bus should follow all safety rules and avoid distracting the driver.
  • Students walking to school should do so in pairs, or groups, and follow rules for pedestrians.
  • Cross streets only at crosswalks and look both ways before crossing.
  • Students riding a bicycle should wear a helmet and follow all rules for bicyclists.
  • Walk – don’t ride – a bicycle across streets and only in designated crosswalks.
  • Teenage students who drive to school should avoid speeding and minimize distractions from cell phone usage, eating, loud music or disruptive passengers.
  • Never overload a vehicle and ensure every passenger is using a safety belt.
  • Always act as a positive role model for younger siblings and fellow students. Avoid horseplay on sidewalks, while riding a bus or bicycle, and while traveling in a vehicle.

[Information provided by the Las Cruces Police Department]