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As children head back to school, motorists should keep an eye out to prevent tragic accidents.

Last September, a Muskogee student stepped off a curb on a busy street and was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured. It could have been much worse. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, safety must be the first lesson of every new school year.

"Tragically, from 2006 to 2015 there were 301 school-age children (18 and younger) killed in school transportation-related crashes," NHTSA states on its website. "It is important to share a few simple tips with kids to help them stay safe when traveling to and from school."

Drivers should obey the law and not pass school buses that are loading or unloading. 

If children are walking to school, children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. 

Children should always use a sidewalk if there is one. If there's not a sidewalk, they should walk on the edge of the street facing oncoming traffic. They should pay attention. Remind children not to cross streets in the middle of the block but to cross at the corner or at a crosswalk. And, they should look both directions when crossing.

Drivers also should look out for children. Speeding in a school zone will get you a hefty ticket. If you see children waiting to cross the street, slow down. Children are unpredictable, and despite reminders from parents, children don't always pay attention to traffic.

Let's all start the school year off with safety first.

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