On Monday, most schools open in the area.

To motorists, be extra careful.

To people living near bus stops or along routes that children walk, help watch out for them.

Motorists especially must use common sense. Last year, there was an accident involving students and a motor vehicle in Summit Hill in which two youngsters were injured - one of them seriously - because caution wasn't taken by the motorist.

Don't pass school buses when they are picking up or dropping off students. Don't tailgate buses.

Drive slowly near bus stops in case a youngster darts out from between parked cars.

If you have a child who rides a school bus, accompany them to the bus stop if you can. If not, talk to another parent and ask them to help watch out for your child.

If you live near a bus stop, or near a school, be aware of children walking. If something seems unusual, call the police.

Every year we hear of predators stalking lone youngsters who are en route to school. Or, we learn of youngsters being mercilessly bullied. If you witness such incidents, get involved. Notify officials.

If in an area served by crossing guards, obey them. They are responsible for your child's safety.

As a motorist, if you see crossing guards, slow down.

We're sure the police will be out in full force next week. If they are, it's virtually guaranteed you won't get a break if you do something stupid - especially if you're a motorist - involving bus stops, school buses, or speed limits in the vicinity of schools and bus stops.

As a parent, if you don't take your child to the bus stop daily, tell them where to seek help if they need it. Let them know which houses they can go in or what adults will help them.

Years ago, youngsters walked greater distances to schools and in more isolated areas. Back then, though, it seemed like people looked out for each other more than they do today.

Another thing about school starting is that it means summer is coming to an end. It will stay dark later in the morning. In some cases, children will be at bus stops in the dark.

On the other hand, if you're driving during sunrise and sunset, very blinding conditions can occur. This is all the more reason to exercise great caution.

Again, use common sense. Look out for the kids. Using a moment of caution can prevent a lifetime of anguish.

Communicate with your children. Talk to them about safety, about potentially bad people, and about seeking help immediately if they feel threatened.

Don't be timid about communicating, too, with bus drivers, crossing guards, school officials, and even police officers.

Hopefully the 2013-14 school year will be a safe one. It can be if you do your part.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com