Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, urges motorists to use extra care as children return to classrooms for the start of a new school year. Drivers need to be aware of an increased number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the road, especially near schools and school bus stops.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a study showing that 301 school-aged children nationwide were killed heading to and from school between 2006 and 2015. One third of the victims were pedestrians. The study also found that school-aged pedestrians were more likely to be killed between 6 and 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. than any other time of the day.

The Rhode Island State Police reminds motorists to be extra vigilant when driving in residential areas and school zones before and after school.

Here are some back-to-school safety tips and reminders for motorists:

• Use extra caution, especially when driving in residential areas and/or near schools. Beware of children darting out from between parked cars and watch for children crossing the street before it is safe to do so in their rush to get on or off a bus.

• Stop for school buses loading or unloading children. State law requires motorists to stay at least 50 feet behind any school bus, and for motorists on both sides of the road to stop for buses that are stopped with their red lights activated. Failure to stop can result in a fine up to $300 and/or suspension of your driver’s license for up to 30 days.

• Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, especially in school zones. Come to a complete stop at stop signs, checking for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

• Follow the direction of crossing guards at intersections and crosswalks. Never pass another vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians.

• Avoid cell phone use and other distractions while driving.

• Be alert. Children are unpredictable and may ignore hazards that could put them at risk. Older children may be distracted by loud music, or texting, talking or surfing the web on their phones and not pay attention to possible hazards.

Colonel Assumpico also encourages parents and guardians to review traffic, school and personal safety guidelines with their children, especially those going off to school for the first time. Remind them to look both ways before crossing the street and to take care when boarding and exiting buses. Also, tell them not to speak to strangers or get into the car of anyone they don’t know.